Rocky Flats: Offsite Contamination and Public Health: Remembering the Work of Ed Martell and Carl Johnson

In Democracy, Environment, Nuclear Guardianship, Plutonium, Public Health, Rocky Flats on November 9, 2012 at 8:14 am

Two independent scientists did the most to inform people of the Denver area about public health dangers  of plutonium released from the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant. After a fire on Mother’s Day 1969 at Rocky Flats, radiochemist Edward A. Martell of the the National Center for Atmospheric Research was the first  to bring to the attention of an unknowing public that their lives were endangered by plutonium released into the off-site environment from the plant. Carl J. Johnson, MD, for several years chief public health officer of Jefferson County where Rocky Flats is located, showed empirically that the Colorado Department of Health was providing misleading data to the public regarding levels of contamination and that there was a link between contamination  levels and cancer incidence. Through the 1970s these two individuals informed and inspired participants in the rapidly growing movement of resistance calling for an end to production at Rocky Flats.

Earlier this year, in a book called Tortured Science: Health Studies, Ethics, and Nuclear Weapons in the United States, I published an article that details the contributions of Martell and Johnson, activity for which each paid dearly. The article explains why what they revealed about contamination from Rocky Flats is still relevant today. It exposes the failure of the government’s cost-benefit risk-analysis approach to public health at nuclear facilities and makes an appeal for a wholly new practice of “ecological democracy.” Entitled “Democracy and Public Health at Rocky Flats,” the article is available on line at http://www.rockyflatsnuclearguardianship.org/leroy-moores-blog/papers-by-leroy-moore-phd-2/


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