Half-Life of Memory: Unforgetting the ‘American Chernobyl’
but now comes the trick in this trick extended lede: All of this happened in the United States, just outside of Denver, Colorado, at the Rocky Flats Plant. Between 1952 and 1989, Rocky Flats was the U.S. government’s main factory for building thermonuclear weapons. As current Colorado Gov. Jared Polis testified before Congress, in 1969, Rocky Flats “nearly became America’s own Chernobyl,” with Denver rendered a radioactive forbidden zone—”[t]he day they almost lost Denver,” as journalist Len Ackland wrote in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.