leroymoore

Rocky Flats: Shiloh Krupar and Nuclia Waste

In Democracy, Environment, Nuclear Guardianship, Plutonium, Public Health, Rocky Flats, Wildlife Refuge on June 25, 2012 at 4:11 am

Quite by accident I recently came across Shiloh R. Krupar’s “Transnatural ethics: revisiting the nuclear cleanup of Rocky Flats, CO, through the queer ecology of Nuclia Waste,” Cultural Geographies, May 24, 2012.

I found the article dense, provocative and congenial. In an email message, Krupar, a Georgetown University geographer, describes the article as a bit of an awkward “sandwiching of empirical case-study material on the RF cleanup, with more philosophical speculation on environmental ethics.” She critiques the ethic that guided the Rocky Flats cleanup for “eliminating uncertainty” and assuming that nature is “static and separate from the human.” Those who did the cleanup, she notes, assumed erroneously that nuclear waste left behind will stay put. This made it possible for them to view and to invite others to view the resultant Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge as pristine rather than contaminated. Contrary to this dreamlike misperception Krupar says we no longer experience “pure nature” and thus must adopt a “transnatural ethic” that “directs attention toward the impurifications already in existence” and grounds responsibility in awareness of a broader human/nature kinship. She cites the antics of Denver drag queen Nuclia Waste as an example of the cognitive transformation required. Her paper is on line at http://cgj.sagepub.com/content/early/2012/05/24/1474474011433756.abstract?patientinform-links=yes&legid=spcgj;1474474011433756v1  An abundance of information about Nuclia Waste can also be found on the web.

Krupar says she grew up  in Richland, WA, right next door to the DOE’s Hanford facility where plutonium was produced for Rocky Flats, then later in Lakewood, CO, with her family working at Rocky Flats. While she was doing graduate work in geography at the University of California, Berkeley, she began to think about her “embeddedness” in these places.

I will write another blog entry about a remarkable project Shiloh Krupar is doing with Sarah Kranouse of Iowa University. Look for the U.S. Department of TLC.

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