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Rocky flats nuclear plant: how positive leadership prevented a radioactive disaster

Published on July 26, 2016 Originally recorded 2010   9 min
0:03
The set of slides I want to show to you tell a story of the Rocky Flats Nuclear Arsenal located 16 miles west of Denver, Colorado. This was a place that produced the triggers that go into the nuclear weapons, were produced by the United States during the Cold War. We essentially said the Soviet Union is stockpiling weapons. We have to stockpile weapons to keep the world safe for democracy. This shows you a picture of the Rocky Flats Nuclear Arsenal on this flat plain, the Rocky Mountains in the background.
0:32
Since 1951, this organization was producing nuclear triggers, but nobody knew for sure if they're polluting the environment, if groundwater was polluted, if radioactive material was being emitted into the air. Nobody knew if people in Denver were going to get cancer because of the fact that this place was upwind from them. So the Environmental Protection Agency finally achieved through the courts, partial jurisdiction, and in 1989 brought with them the FBI, shut the place down on the spot. Strictly said, step back from the equipment, you may not touch anything. You need to prove to us that there is no pollution. Well, they lost immediately their mission. They went from being patriotic heroes to now accused environmental criminals. It was a difficult time. Hostile attitudes from the government, from environmentalists, from regulators. The culture was siege mentality. There were 900 grievances against management by workers. Safety was the worst in the industry, twice as bad as the industry average and not a pleasant place to work. Well, in 1995, after six years of no work being done, the condition of that site was pretty dismal. There were 21 tons of nuclear grade material on site,100 tons of plutonium enriched uranium solutions, normally in nitric acid, often in leaking tanks and pipes, 258,000 cubic meters of low level radioactive waste, and so on. In other words, this was the most dangerous buildings in America. This was the most dangerous place on the American continent.
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Rocky flats nuclear plant: how positive leadership prevented a radioactive disaster

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