Sundance Premiere: “Death Row” in NY town where nuclear reactors leaked — “Almost every house on this street had somebody who was sick with cancer or something else” (VIDEO)

Published: January 24th, 2012 at 5:31 pm ET
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Title: “The Atomic States of America”: Exploring a Nation’s Struggle with Nuclear Power
Source: Democracy Now
Date: Jan 24, 2012

We speak with Sheena Joyce, co-director of the new documentary “The Atomic States of America,” which is featured at 2012 Sundance Film Festival. We’re also joined by Kelly McMasters, whose book “Welcome to Shirley: A Memoir from an Atomic Town” inspired the film. Joyce says, “We used Kelly’s book and the town of Shirley as kind of a springboard into the issue, to just talk to people really on both sides, but mainly to speak to the people in reactor communities… We wanted to seek an intelligent dialogue.” [...]

[...] KELLY McMASTERS: [...] It’s a service town to the Hamptons, and it’s on the South Shore of Long Island [...] What we didn’t realize, what most of us didn’t realize, is just north of us, hidden by the Pine Barrens, was the Brookhaven National Laboratory. And we—it happened to be located on top of the sole source drinking water aquifer for three million people, including the people of Shirley, and there were three nuclear reactors there, and all three leaked. [...]

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go back to The Atomic States of America, a remarkable film that has premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. In this clip, you, Kelly, and a local resident introduce us to Carlton Road, which is nicknamed “Death Row” because so many sick people live there.

KELLY McMASTERS: So right now we’re standing on Carlton, the street that was nicknamed “Death Row.” Pretty much almost every house on this street had somebody who was sick with cancer or something else. People started realizing that they weren’t the only sick ones. Their neighbors were sick, as well.

RANDY SNELL: We would meet in people’s basements and their kitchens, and we’d talk about what we found. And, you know, we’d do research, and somebody would find something.

KELLY McMASTERS: All signs seemed to point to what was beyond this barbed-wire fence.

RANDY SNELL: These are all rhabdomyosarcoma cases. A is my daughter. Shirley, here, all the other cases are all within the confines of real close to the Brookhaven National Laboratory. I knew there was a laboratory at Brookhaven. But I pictured this as a bunch of guys in white coats with test tubes, heating them up and, you know, doing whatever type of experiments.

REPORTER: The Brookhaven National laboratory conducts sophisticated nuclear experiments, producing an enormous amount of deadly waste.

RANDY SNELL: The only research I had said that my daughter’s cancer was caused by low-level radiation. And Brookhaven National Laboratory was the only source of that.

REPORTER: The lab sits atop the primary underground water supply for 1.3 million residents of New York’s Long Island.

Read the report here

Published: January 24th, 2012 at 5:31 pm ET
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