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"Annihilation beckons"

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Title:
"Annihilation beckons" the origins of the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant
Alternate title:
Origins of the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant
Creator:
Kennedy, John J
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Publisher:
University of Colorado Denver
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
106 leaves : ; 29 cm

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Subjects / Keywords:
Nuclear facilities -- Environmental aspects -- Colorado -- Golden ( lcsh )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references.
Thesis:
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree, Master of Arts, Department of History
General Note:
Department of History
Statement of Responsibility:
by John J. Kennedy, Jr.

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Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
|Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
25485562 ( OCLC )
ocm25485562
Classification:
LD1190.L57 1991m .K46 ( lcc )

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Full Text
"ANNIHILATION BECKONS":
THE ORIGINS OF THE
ROCKY FLATS NUCLEAR WEAPONS PLANT
by
John J. Kennedy, Jr.
B.A., Villanova University, 1977
A thesis submitted to the
Faculty of the Graduate School of the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
Department of History


This thesis for the Master of Arts
degree by
John J. Kennedy, Jr.
has been approved for the
Department of
History
by
Jn hi
Date


Kennedy, John Joseph, Jr. (M.A., History)
"Annihilation Beckons:" The Origins of the Rocky Flats
Nuclear Weapons Plant
Thesis directed by Professor Mark S. Foster
In keeping with the secrecy that hallmarked the
nation's early atomic weapons program, the decision to
locate a weapons production facility at Rocky Flats was
made without the knowledge of local or state civic
leaders, and the public was certainly not involved in
the process. Most local officials praised the news of
the plant, pointing out the economic advantages
inherent in being home to a major defense installation.
Average citizens, however, took a more wary outlook. In
retrospect their concerns, chiefly the increased
likelihood that Denver would become a primary target
for Soviet bombs, seem naive, but they were curiously
prescient in thinking that the threat posed by the
plant would be through the air. Virtually no one had
even an inkling of potential environmental hazards.
Instead an atmosphere of innocent anticipation was
tempered by the prospect of a Soviet assault and the
more mundane matters of crowded schools, jammed
highways, and over-extended municipal services.


By analyzing the relevant literature and
contemporary press, beneath the boosterism and bravado
an undercurrent of unease can be detected in the
response of typical Coloradans to the news of the
plant. Unaware of what was actually being done at Rocky
Flats, they were forced to accept the secrecy in the
interests of national security.
The form and content of this abstract are approved. I
recommend its publication.
Signed


CONTENTS
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION ................................ 1
2. THE COLD WAR: MEETING THE PERCEIVED THREAT. 7
3. THE COLORADO CONNECTION......................21
4. THE DECISION: PROJECT APPLE..................31
5. THE ANNOUNCEMENT.............................41
6. "AGETTIN' A BIG STICK": THE REACTION.........53
7. "THE ATOM PEOPLE AREN'T SAYING MUCH":
CONSTRUCTION AND EARLY OPERATION..............65
8. EPILOGUE: ROCKY FLATS TODAY..................83
BIBLIOGRAPHY.........................................89
ENDNOTES
96


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
The Rocky Flats nuclear weapons production plant
rises from the rolling prairies to the east of the
foothills of the Rocky Mountains and then falls back
away to prairie, causing hardly a ripple in the
landscape. From the highway the complex is almost
entirely hidden from view, nestled in arroyos and
canyons that bisect the plateau. There is little to see
except guard houses, security fences, warning signs, an
almost lunar buffer zone, and road signs that read
"Gusty Winds Likely." The best view of the plant comes
from a distance, traveling south on Colorado State
Highway 93, when, several miles out of Boulder, a quirk
in the seemingly endless procession of rolling hills
allows an observer a glimpse at the heart of the plant.
In a parody of perspective, the closer one gets to Rocky
Flats the less one is likely to see.
Today Rocky Flats is one of several production
plants in the Department of Energy's (DOE) Weapons
Complex. The facility is responsible for the manufacture
of components for nuclear weapons, utilizing materials
such as plutonium, berrylium, uranium, and various


alloys of stainless steel. An ancillary mission is the
recovery of plutonium from dismantled weapons and
process scrap generated from all phases of weapons
production.
The primary product of the plant is known in
official releases as a 'plutonium trigger." In plant
parlance it is termed a "pit." Plutonium trigger is
really an innocuous misnomer that the DOE adopted in
1989 following a series of scandals at the plant and
unflattering reports about workers' and nearby
residents' safety at Rocky Flats.1 In effect, the
trigger mechanism is actually a small atom bomb, similar
in its workings to ^the devices detonated at Hiroshima
and Nagasaki. These small fission bombs create the
proper conditions needed to initiate a fusion reaction.
Hydrogen bombs derive their power from the fusion of
light nuclei, rather than by the fission of heavy nuclei
as in a uranium bomb. This fusion occurs only in a
furnace of heat rivaling that of the sun, and that heat
can only be produced by the blast of a uranium bomb.
When the uranium bomb, the trigger, is exploded, the
resulting heat turns hydrogen atoms into helium, with an
accompanying transformation of some of the mass into
energy, producing the much more powerful hydrogen
Page 2


explosion. Plutonium is the favored isotope of uranium
for creating the initial atomic explosion. In simple
terms, the only way to detonate a hydrogen bomb is to
use a uranium bomb as a trigger, or "primary."2 An
extremely toxic substance, one pound of plutonium could
theoretically cause nine billion deaths by lung cancer,
plutonium has a radioactive half-life of 24,000 years
and a full-life of 250,000 years.3
Construction of Rocky Flats began in 1951, and
the plant became operational in 1952, the same year that
the nation detonated its first hydrogen bomb. Dow
Chemical Company operated the facility for 24 years,
leaving in 1975 when Rockwell International assumed
control. In 1989 EG&G Incorporated replaced Rockwell.
The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) exercised
administrative authority until 1975, when it was
abolished and replaced by the Energy Research and
Development Administration (ERDA). DOE subsequently
assumed control of atomic weapon production and
development in 1977, and has regulated the plant since
then.
Plants in the weapons complex operate under a
system known as "Go-Co," for government-owned,
contractor-operated. This policy grew directly out of
Page 3


the Manhattan Project, the secret World War II program
that produced the first atomic bombs. General Leslie
Groves, director of the Manhattan Project, maintained
that contracting with a few of the largest and best
qualified companies and universities was the quickest
and most reliable method to design, develop, and produce
atom bombs.4 This precedent was carried over into
peacetime, as the AEC continued the practice of
contracting out work to a few leading firms. In the
period from 1951-1954, the AEC's era of enormous plant
expansion and construction, Union Carbide, Bendix,
General Electric, Sandia National Laboratory, DuPont,
and the universities of California and Chicago received
over one-half of all AEC contract expenditures. And the
selection of these contractors was often dependent on
the judgment of only one or two men: Arthur Compton
channeled Manhattan Project work to the University of
Chicago rather than see it given to Princeton or
Columbia, while Groves was enamored with DuPont's
ability to produce results quickly and directed several
contracts its way.5
Dow Chemical Company was a relative latecomer to
weapons work, having begun defense contracting in 1948.e
But the Truman Administration's January 1950 decision to
Page 4


proceed with the development of the hydrogen bomb opened
the door for new firms to take part in the weapons
program, and Dow Chemical was soon searching for a
location to build a weapon component production
facility.
In keeping with the secrecy that hallmarked the
nation's early atomic program, the decision to locate a
weapons production facility at Rocky Flats was made
without the knowledge of local or state civic leaders,
and the public was certainly not involved in the
process. Most local officials praised the news of the
plant, eagerly pointing out the economic advantages
inherent in being home to a major defense installation.
Average citizens, however, took a more wary outlook. In
retrospect their concerns, chiefly the increased
likelihood that Denver would become a primary target for
Soviet bombs, seem naive, but they were also curiously
prescient in thinking that the threat posed by the plant
would be through the air. Virtually no one had even an
inkling of potential environmental hazards. Instead an
atmosphere of innocent anticipation was tempered by the
prospect of a Soviet assault and the more mundane
Page 5


matters of crowded schools, jammed highways, and over-
extended municipal services.
Many historians, ranging from Henry Nash Smith to
Patricia Nelson Limerick, have noted that the history of
the West has been dominated by exploitation. Frederick
Jackson Turner viewed the region as a convenient "safety
valve" for crowded Eastern cities, while Limerick has
described it as a traditional dumping ground, a place
where problems could be disposed of and deferred to the
future. Native Americans, Mormons, and hazardous waste
all fall into this way of thinking. Richard Lamm and
Michael McCarthy have also described the prevailing
federal attitude toward the West as a supplier of
resources and a repository for necessary but unwanted
facilities and industries.7 The early history of Rocky
Flats exhibits all of these traits.
Page 6


CHAPTER 2
THE COLD WAR:
MEETING THE PERCEIVED THREAT
Since the time of the Civil War the United
States' sense of continental security had been assured.
Due to its geographical isolation and superior military
potential no single nation could mobilize to effectively
attack the United States, and with the balance of power
abroad relatively stable, America could allow its
potential to remain largely untapped. Secure behind two
great oceans, American leaders felt certain that they
could respond quickly enough to meet any challenge that
threatened their interests.8 The confluence of
geography, time, allies, the overseas balance of power,
and industrial superiority produced a feeling of
invulnerability.
This sense of security eroded after World War II:
the European balance of power was upset and a second
power with massive military capability had emerged in
the Soviet Union. The demise of the old order, replaced
by a new bipolar situation, led to two primary ideas of
postwar foreign policy, anticommunism and national
security. Ironically, the growth of American power it


was the only nation at the time with atomic weapons and
the only great power to emerge unscathed from the war -
failed to lead to greater security. Instead, it only
enlarged the range of perceived threats.
American animosity for the Soviet Union dated
from the earliest days of the Bolshevik regime, and the
Soviets had an equally longstanding feeling of
antagonism for the United States. Western leaders were
appalled by Lenin's sudden withdrawal from World War I,
which closed the second front against Germany, and by
his denunciation of the war as a capitalist exercise in
exploitation. Following the separate peace of Brest-
Litovsk, they were further outraged by the new regime's
insistence that the Russian Revolution was only the
first stage in a worldwide revolution that would unseat
capitalism and replace it with socialism. The Soviets,
on the other hand, were disillusioned with Western
efforts to influence the course of their Civil War,
seeing those efforts as blatant examples of capitalist
intervention. The refusal of the United States to
recognize the Soviet government until 1933 only added to
the feeling of mistrust.
Tensions eased somewhat as the global revolution
failed to materialize and Stalin shifted his emphasis to
Page 8


building socialism in one country, and a period of
relative good will developed in the late 1920s and
1930s. The Soviet Union, opting to normalize
international relations, toned down its rhetoric and
actively courted American firms to assist in its
industrialization program. American leaders tended to
overlook the worst excesses of Stalin's reign during
this time, hoping that the Soviet Union would evolve a
more liberal style of government, as well as develop
into a more inviting and profitable market. The Soviet
image grew more favorable in American eyes when Stalin
adopted the idea of a popular front against Hitler and
actively opposed the growing threat of Nazism.
This easing of relations was strained by several
events prior to the outbreak of World War II. Soviet
advisers played a significant role in the crackdown
against anarchists during the Spanish Civil War, and the
series of show trials and purges in the Soviet Union
from 1936 to 1938 horrified most Western observers.
Worst of all was the 1939 nonaggression pact signed with
Germany, which appeared to be an abandonment of the
popular front and a repeat of the separate peace of
1918. The pact was quickly followed by the partition of
Poland and the Soviet invasions of Finland and the
Page 9


Baltic states, further souring the Western view of the
Soviet Union.
But with Hitler's June 1941 invasion of the
Soviet Union and declaration of war against the United
States following Pearl Harbor, the United States and the
Soviet Union found themselves joined as allies, part of
Winston Churchill's "Grand Alliance." This was certainly
a marriage of convenience, one predicated on wartime
necessity that compelled the partners to set aside their
fundamental ideological differences for the duration of
the hostilities.
Relations among the Allies were strained at best.
Stalin wanted Great Britain and the United States to
open a second, Western European front against Germany to
relieve his country of some of the burden of fighting
Hitler. President Roosevelt promised to do so in 1942,
but Churchill, recalling the devastation of the previous
war, opposed the plan, hoping that the Soviet Union
would drain the strength of Germany before a cross-
Channel invasion had to be mounted.9 The result was an
African campaign in the fall of 1942, and no European
invasion was staged until 1944. Stalin thought this
broken promise an attempt to weaken the Red Army and
lessen his power at the subsequent peace negotiations.
Page 10


In support of this view, it should be noted that on D-
Day Allied forces faced less than 90 German divisions in
Normandy, while at least 250 German divisions were still
fighting on the Eastern front.10
Lend-lease, the program by which America made war
materials available to its allies, also became a point
of contention. Stalin believed shipments to his country
were too slow and too few during the first years of the
war, and he became deeply suspicious of American motives
when President Truman stopped all aid three days after
hostilities with Germany ended. The United States
maintained that Lend-lease was only intended to assist
in the war effort in the European theater, not to be
used in the Pacific or as an element of reconstruction.
But the rigorous enforcement of the cut-off (several
ships on their way to the Soviet Union were recalled to
port) caused the Soviets to view it as a provocative
act.11
The end of the war only added to the growing
estrangement between the two powers, and the hot war
transformed itself into what is known as the Cold War.
The fate of Poland, the nature of East European
governments, and the issue of German reparations became
divisive elements, as did negotiations for a proposed
Page 11


loan to help the Soviet Union repair its devastated
infrastructure. Underlying all of these was the basic
problem of conflicting ideologies. The United States
drew on the Wilsonian assumptions of self-determination,
free enterprise, democratic elections, and
representative government, Roosevelt's Four Freedoms,
and the ideals of the Atlantic Charter to reshape the
postwar world, while the Soviet Union viewed events
through the lens of class struggle, capitalist
exploitation, and oppression. Ravaged twice within the
past 30 years by invaders, the Soviets insisted on
establishing a sphere of influence, a buffer zone of
dependent states designed to protect it from capitalist
encirclement. This led United States policy makers to
reassess their view that the Soviet Union would further
normalize its international relations and become
integrated into a multilateral trade system.
Attitudes hardened rapidly, and by 1947 the
notion of the Soviet Union as an insecure, cunning, and
determined enemy set on a course of eventual world
domination was entrenched in the United States.12 An
anticommunist consensus developed, stipulating that the
only way to meet such a threat was to maintain equal
vigilance. Since budgetary constraints and popular
Page 12


opinion precluded the idea of maintaining armed forces
equal in strength to the Soviet Union, the only viable
option was reliance on the atomic bomb.
Upon assuming control of the Atomic Energy
Commission in 1947, David Lilienthal found one operable
atom bomb in the nation's nuclear "stockpile, and the
blasting mechanism for that device was new and had never
been tested in an explosion. Production was moving
forward at a rate of about two bombs per month, but a
serious bottleneck, the fabrication of explosive
detonators, stalled the program. This problem was
finally resolved in early 1948, but assembly of weapons
was still an individual, piecemeal process and there was
no way of delivering those bombs that were so tediously
produced to an enemy target. Bombers had to be specially
modified to carry the cumbersome weapons. The cupboard
was so bare that General Groves was forced to cancel a
proposed third atomic test at Bikini Atoll in the summer
of 1946 because bombs and fissionable material were in
critically short supply.13
Despite the low number of bombs, most policy
leaders thought America's monopoly of nuclear capability
was a sufficient deterrent to preclude aggressive Soviet
Page 13


conduct. Colorado Senator Edwin C. Johnson noted that
"God Almighty in His infinite wisdom [has] dropped the
atomic bomb in our lap. . with vision and guts and
plenty of atom bombs. . [we could] compel mankind to
adopt the policy of lasting peace, or be burned to a
crisp.1,14
An essential component of this monopoly was the
belief that the Soviet Union was too backward
industrially to duplicate the achievements of the
Manhattan Project. Groves had attempted to monopolize
all available sources of uranium during the war, but the
effort ended in 1944 when it was found that the more
plentiful element thorium was fissionable. More
successful were his efforts to induce German scientists
to bring their expertise, materials, and plans to the
United States after Germany fell, rather than see them
fall into Soviet hands. Groves was one of many who took
a very relaxed view of Soviet atomic prospects,
believing that it would be at least ten and possibly as
long as 20 years before they would obtain atomic
weapons. He viewed them as "technologically and even
psychologically unequipped" to build the bomb. Manhattan
Project scientist Vannevar Bush thought "they lack men
of special skill, plant adapted to making special
Page 14


products, and possibly materials. . They lack the
resourcefulness of free men, and regimentation is ill-
adapted to unconventional efforts." Even President
Truman subscribed to the theory of Soviet scientific
inferiority, believing them incapable of sustaining the
effort needed to produce an atomic bomb.15
But even if the Soviets were too technologically
regressive to match American accomplishments, there was
no denying their massive troop presence in Eastern
Europe. Civilian and military leaders soon realized that
the atomic bomb functioned less as a sanction than as a
weapon. Bush noted soon after Hiroshima that "the gun on
our hips" would prove useless as a diplomatic tool since
"there is no powder in the gun, for it could not be
drawn, and this is certainly so."16 The inability to
apply nuclear weapons to conventional problems became
increasingly apparent as successive nations fell behind
the Iron Curtain. Following the March 1948
Czechoslovakian coup, Truman noted that "you have to
understand that this isn't a military weapon. It is used
to wipe out women and children and unarmed people, and
not for military uses."17 By 1948, while deterrence
became the principal function of American nuclear
Page 15


capability, it was clear that atomic weapons alone could
not protect vital national security interests.
As late as 1949 the U.S. arsenal was comprised of
only about 100 atomic bombs. U.S. war plans, centering
on Western Europe as the place where Soviet aggression
would be confronted, called for a nuclear prelude to
cripple the Soviet Union's industrial capacity and
demoralize its citizens. This would be followed by an
effort similar to World War II, with ground forces
landing on the continent and fighting their way east.1
Serious consideration was given to the need to boost
American conventional might, since demobilization had
become a chronic weakness in the face of the huge Soviet
military presence in Eastern Europe.
Any internal debate on American rearmament was
silenced by the news of the Soviet's explosion of an
atomic device in August 1949. New impetus was given to
urgings for the development of the hydrogen bomb, the
so-called "super". By early 1949 the Joint Chiefs of
Staff requested that the AEC boost production of atomic
weapons, noting that the currently established
military requirements for scheduling bomb production
should be increased substantially and extended."19 Joint
Chiefs Chairman Omar Bradley maintained that "as long as
Page 16


America retains a tremendous advantage in A-bomb
quantity, quality, and deliverability, the deterrent
effect of the bomb will continue."20
The United States' response to the Soviet bomb
was to raise the stakes, essentially the continuation of
a long-standing military policy best articulated by
Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest: "Get thar
fust with the most stuff." On January 31, 1950,
President Truman announced his decision to proceed with
development of the hydrogen bomb:
It is part of my responsibility as
Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces to see to
it that our country is able to defend itself
against any possible aggressor. I have directed
the Atomic Energy Commission to continue its work
on all forms of atomic weapons, including the so-
called hydrogen or superbomb. Like all other work
in the field of atomic weapons, it will be
carried forward on a basis consistent with the
over-all objectives of our program for peace and
security.21
Within one month the Joint Chiefs requested that the
President begin "an all-out development of hydrogen
bombs and the means for their production and
delivery."22 The hydrogen bomb program was essentially
an attempt to minimize the loss of the fission monopoly
while preserving a qualitative advantage over the Soviet
Union.
Page 17


Soon after the decision had been made to pursue
the fusion bomb, Truman also set off on a course of
massive conventional rearmament. A report submitted to
the National Security Council in the spring of 1950,
known as NSC-68, called for an extensive buildup of
conventional forces and material, in effect tripling the
military budget.23 But before a decision was reached on
NSC-68 the Korean War erupted, and all debate on the
issue was halted.
Even with the hydrogen bomb program only in the
earliest planning stages, the atomic bomb effort by 1950
was, according to one historian, the nation's largest
industrial enterprise, employing five percent of the
country's labor force and consuming ten percent of its
electric power. With the prospect of obtaining hydrogen
weapons in the near future, AEC chairman Gordon Dean
noted that "what we are working toward here is a
situation where we will have atomic weapons in almost as
complete a variety as conventional ones, and a situation
where we can use them in the same way. This would
include artillery shells, guided missiles, torpedos,
rockets and bombs for ground support amongst others and
it would include big ones for big situations." Dean was
Page 18


not concerned about the U.S. having enough bombs, "just
about how to get more."24
By early 1951, official U.S. estimates put the
Soviet Red Army strength at over three million men in
175 divisions, while American forces numbered 1.2
million in 18 divisions. No word was given as to Soviet
nuclear potential, but the science writer for the New
York Times placed their stockpile at from 12 to 15
"antiquated models," calling them jalopies in comparison
to the latest American models. American military leaders
had already decided to adopt a policy of first use of
atomic weapons, for as Undersecretary of Defense Robert
Lovett said, "we're not going to do a square dance with
those 175 divisions."25
Dean maintained that the U.S. held a qualitative
and quantitative lead in the atomic field over the
Soviets, claiming that "if their plan is to curtail the
atomic weapons program of this country, they have been
stupid; for it is they and only they who have required
us to be strong."26 Later he would retreat from his
claims of knowledge of Soviet capability, noting that
"anything you say about Russia's atomic energy supply
and progress in the field of nuclear physics is purely
conjecture. We do know that they have some good men in
Page 19


the nuclear physics field and good supplies of uranium
ore in some of their satellite countries."27
Speculation by reporters put the U.S. stockpile
at about 700 bombs in early 1951. To ensure prompt
development of the hydrogen weapon, Truman asked
Congress for an additional $51.3 million for the AEC.
"The supplemental appropriation for the Atomic Energy
Commission is for the construction of certain urgent
production and research facilities," said the White
House announcement.28 Among those "urgent production and
research facilities" was Rocky Flats.
Speaking on a television program dealing with
production of the hydrogen bomb, Albert Einstein, the
man whose letter to President Roosevelt had started the
nation on the course of developing the atom bomb, said
"radioactive poisoning of the atmosphere and hence
annihilation of any life on earth has been brought
within the range of technical possibilities. . .
General annihilation beckons."29
Page 20


CHAPTER 3
THE COLORADO CONNECTION
The Rocky Flats plant was born in March 1951, the
offspring of Cold War fears for national security and
the burgeoning atomic weapons program. In an era when
the Korean War raged, Klaus Fuchs gave atomic secrets to
enemy governments, the Rosenbergs stood trial for
espionage, Senator Joe McCarthy alleged that communists
were functioning in the highest councils of American
government, and the daily newspapers detailed how
profession after profession was exposed before the House
Un-American Activities Committee for harboring
communists, Colorado residents readily accepted the news
of a secret atomic plant located within 20 miles of
their capitol and most populous city. These were not yet
the "nervous neighbors"30 who would later plague the
Atomic Energy Commission (and its successor, the
Department of Energy) with demands for environmental
monitoring, public disclosure of hazards, and increased
safety measures. Rather, most Coloradans in 1951
welcomed defense installations, atomic or otherwise, as
a source of jobs, a boost to the local economy, and as
part of their contribution to national security.


Proud of having a major defense installation
located in their own backyard, determined to do their
part to stop communism, Coloradans had great faith and
trust that their government would never harm them.
Still, many residents expressed displeasure with the
prospect of an atomic facility nearby and were confused
by the lack of information made available to them.
Beneath the boosterism and bravado expressed by local
leaders and the press, an undercurrent of unease can be
detected in the response of average citizens.
Citizens' fears in 1951 were mainly foreign. The
Soviet Union, aggressive, untrustworthy, and
expansionist, possessed atomic weapons. China had been
taken by communists, and the invasion of South Korea
appeared to be the beginning of a massive movement
toward communist world domination. These external
threats, buttressed by a renewed climate of
anticommunism at home, eroded the postwar mood of
victory and confidence into a general feeling of fear
and frustration.
Existing alongside this pessimistic undercurrent
was an abiding faith in technology. The scientific
productivity that had developed the atomic bomb led to
an image of scientists as the new high priests of the
Page 22


nuclear age, men engaged in a noble cause worthy of the
highest national priority. In keeping with historian
Paul Johnson's thesis that the modern world was
searching for a substitute for God,31 the postwar
scientist represented the height of Enlightenment
values, and some of this luster wore off on those
involved in weapons research. He would dispel
superstition through method and challenge entrenched
orthodoxies with his devotion to logic and truth.32 Only
years later would this image change, and in this
deconstruction he would be viewed as a warmonger, a
harbinger of death, and a reckless polluter of the
environment. But in 1951 the blossoming partnership
among science, industry, and government promised
limitless accomplishments, everything from supersonic
atomic trains and airplanes to electricity too cheap to
meter. As David Lilienthal, first chairman of the AEC,
put it:
The atom has had us bewildered. It was so
gigantic, so terrible, so beyond the power of
imagination to embrace that it seemed to be the
ultimate fact. It would either destroy us or
bring about the millennium. It was the final
secret of Nature, greater by far than man
himself. . Our obsession with the Atom led us
to assign to it a separate and unique status in
the world. So greatly did it seem to transcend
the ordinary affairs of men that we shut it out
Page 23


of those affairs altogether; or rather tried to
create a separate world, the world of the Atom.33
The "almost limitless beneficial applications of atomic
energy"34 were an accepted fact 40 years ago. Medicine,
transportation, electrical power needs, and national
security were only some of the fields that stood to gain
from advances in nuclear science.
By 1951 Colorado had a longstanding connection to
the atom. One perhaps apocryphal story maintained that
Pierre and Marie Curie's 1898 experiments that led to
the discovery of x-rays were conducted with uranium ore
obtained from the Kirk Mine near Central City. As early
as 1903 a Denver physician, Dr. George Stover, was using
radium as a treatment for certain diseases: powdered
uranium was placed in platinum tubes and inserted into a
tumor for 24-48 hours. A large uranium mill was operated
within the city limits of Denver from 1914 to 1917, on
land now owned by the Robinson Brick and Tile Company.
In 1948 Colorado was chosen as one of six national
centers for training recipients of atomic energy
fellowships in biology and medicine. The program was
jointly administered by the University of Colorado
Medical School, the University of Colorado at Boulder,
and Denver University.33
Page 24


But the state was primarily interested in the
national security applications of atomic energy. By
1948, over 1,700 new firms had been created in western
Colorado to meet the demand for uranium ore, and an
atomic energy research plant in Grand Junction was being
hailed as the forerunner of a new uranium-byproducts
industry.36 Denver city officials and business leaders
even bid to have the Santa Fe Operations Office of the
AEC transferred from Los Alamos to Denver.37
Perhaps the most glaring example of residents'
readiness to accept all things atomic came in a special
election in Glenwood Springs. The issue of "untying the
shackled hands of American fighting men in Korea" was
overwhelmingly approved, with 63 percent of the town's
registered voters approving a resolution to declare the
conflict an all-out emergency, deploy atomic weapons,
and accept Nationalist Chinese aid.38
This example of citizens' willingness to deploy
atomic weapons went together with a full knowledge of
their destructive power. Denver newspaper readers were
all too aware of the hazards: a recent series detailed
the damage that would be caused by a single bomb
detonated over Union Station. It was estimated that
practically all buildings within a one-mile radius would
Page 25


be completely destroyed, a circle encompassing City
Hall, Bears Stadium, and St. Luke's Hospital. The blast
would immediately kill 40,000 persons, and a total of
120,000 would be killed or injured. No account of long-
term radiation problems was included, but the article
concluded that Denver, a city of about 412,000 persons
with an average population density of 6,200 per square
mile and numerous defense and government installations,
presented an enemy with an attractive atomic target.39
Fears of nuclear attack were widespread at this
time. A national news magazine trumpeted Denver as a
possible wartime national capitol, citing the need to
decentralize essential operations and the city's
admirable geographic location. In addition, it was noted
that the Air Force was moving its Air Defense Command
headquarters to the area, and manufacturers of precision
tools, electronic equipment, and medical chemicals were
attracted by the favorable climate, low living costs,
contented and productive labor supply, cheap land, and
plentiful resources. Thomas Dines, president of Denver's
U.S. National Bank, told the magazine "We feel we fit
very effectively into the current mobilization
pattern.1,40
Page 26


Coloradans were preparing to "fit into the
current mobilization pattern." Governor Dan Thornton had
recently appointed a 15-member state civil defense
advisory board. The program's director, General Henry L.
Larson, urged residents to begin work on building bomb
shelters, while a survey of Denver's basements was
undertaken to uncover likely public shelter sites.
Banker George C. Berger, who headed the city's civil
defense program, maintained "If an atom bomb hit Denver,
most citizens could survive if they knew the bomb's
true dangers, then knew how to escape or minimize those
dangers." But one critic, University of Colorado physics
professor Walter Orr Roberts, called civil defense
measures "fantastically inadequate," and warned that the
city needed to implement a drastic dispersal program if
it hoped to limit casualties.41
Roberts' warning carried more weight than that
generally received by academics. In addition to his
teaching duties, he served as director of the U.S.
Navy's High Altitude Observatory in Boulder, and was a
founding member and president of the Rocky Mountain
Committee on Nuclear Energy, a volunteer organization
that offered assistance with radiological aspects of
civil defense.42 If a man of Roberts' stature and
Page 27


learning was concerned, should not the typical citizen
also worry?
He did, but only to a certain extent. While an
atomic attack was feared, the hazards now known to be a
part of the nuclear weapon production and testing
programs were largely unknown in 1951. In testimony
before a Congressional committee in 1945 the director of
the Manhattan Project, General Leslie R. Groves,
indicated that "radiation death is a very pleasant way
to die."43 Persons living near Indian Springs, Nevada,
just outside of the government's atomic bomb test range,
saw the danger of the weapons program at the time not in
terms of long range health risks, but as an immediate
inconvenience. Following one test blast, they claimed
$15,000 in damages, mostly for broken glass from windows
blown out by the explosion. An AEC official said "We
accept our responsibility for any damage which may
result directly from our test operations and expect to
reimburse property owners. It is particularly noteworthy
that in approximately one-tenth of the cases, property
owners waived all claims in the interest of national
defense.1,44
The pathological and genetic dangers of ionizing
radiation were well known within the medical community
Page 28


by the 1940s, but these dangers were viewed as a
necessary evil, a calculated risk when measured against
the danger inherent in not proceeding with the atomic
weapons program.45 The notion that the United States
must maintain its nuclear superiority precluded the
establishment of adequate safeguards in the testing
program,46 and this same manner of thinking was apparent
in all other phases of the weapons program.
It was not until 1955 that the mayor of Denver
asked the AEC to clarify whether radioactive dust from
Nevada test blasts posed a danger to Denver residents.
Two University of Colorado scientists who claimed that
the tests were cause for concern from a public health
standpoint were accused by the governor of employing a
"fright strategy to create public sentiment against the
necessary testing of atom bombs." Dr. Ray Lanier of the
radiology department and Dr. Theodore Puck, chairman of
the biophysics department, "ought to be arrested" wrote
then-Governor Johnson, for their "premeditated effort to
frighten the people and spread unnecessary hysteria."
Johnson would brag to AEC chairman Lewis L. Strauss of
his role in quieting the recalcitrant professors, while
Strauss would assure him that "I am informed by our
staff that the level of radioactive fallout, even in
Page 29


counties near the test site, has been far below hazard
levels.,'4'7
Clearly, as late as 1955, doubting the safety of
the atomic program was a dangerous undertaking.
Unquestioning acceptance was the expected response to
the dictates of the atomic decision makers, and except
for occasional instances of doubt and second thoughts,
throughout the early 1950s that was what they received.
Page 30


CHAPTER 4
THE DECISION: PROJECT APPLE
Once the decision had been reached to initiate a
program to develop and produce the hydrogen bomb, it
became apparent that existing Atomic Energy Commission
facilities were incapable of handling the task. The
early Manhattan Project plants would continue to
shoulder a major burden, but new facilities were needed
to lighten the load.
The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima was made
from uranium processed at the Oak Ridge, Tennessee,
plant operated by Union Carbide Nuclear Company; the
weapon that destroyed Nagasaki was powered by plutonium
from DuPont's Hanford complex near Richland, Washington.
Both of these bombs, and the entire early arsenal, were
assembled by hand at Los Alamos. Monsanto Chemical
Company produced some of the components for early
weapons during the war in a converted greenhouse in
Dayton, Ohio. This plant would later relocate to nearby
Miamisburg in 1948 and become known as the Mound Plant.
Mason and Hanger began operating a weapons assembly
plant at Burlington, Iowa, in 1947; some assembly work


was also done at Clarksville, Tennessee, and at Median
Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas, until the
Burlington plant became operational. By 1956 Mason and
Hanger took over the Pantex facility in Amarillo, Texas,
from Procter and Gamble. Today Pantex is the final
assembly point for all U.S. nuclear weapons.40
Those facilities were able to handle the early
piecemeal production of uranium bombs, but the hydrogen
bomb effort required a major expansion. From August 1950
until December 1952 the AEC granted nine major contracts
for various components of the weapons complex.49 Among
these was a $45 million contract awarded to Dow Chemical
Company for a production facility at Rocky Flats.
The same spirit of secrecy which surrounded the
Manhattan Project continued with the selection of the
new plants. Just as the first bomb had been dropped
before most Americans even knew that there was an atomic
weapons program, plants like Rocky Flats were decided
upon and announced before local residents had an inkling
they were being considered. Property was purchased by
"secret operatives" who refused to disclose the nature
of their plans, and local decision makers were kept
completely unaware of matters.
Page 32


Los Alamos had handled both the research and
production requirements for the AEC's nuclear program
until the wave of expansion in the early 1950s. Plants
added to the complex were intended to relieve Los Alamos
of its production duties, allowing the facility to
concentrate on research. As a producer of components for
weapons, Rocky Flats would relieve some of that
burden.50
By late 1950 the AEC had selected Dow Chemical
Company of Midland, Michigan, as its operator for the
proposed production facility. Dow had begun defense
contracting in 1948, and at the time of its selection to
operate the new facility was also involved, in a joint
venture with Detroit Edison, in a study for the AEC on
the feasibility of plutonium power plants.S1 Dow joined
the AEC's Santa Fe Operations Office in setting up the
guidelines for selecting the location of the new plant
in January 1951, an undertaking that was known as
Project Apple.52
The criteria for selection of the site focused on
four main items: a dry climate, an adequate supporting
population, attractive environs, and accessibility to
Los Alamos, Chicago, and St. Louis. Specifically, the
site was to have a Western location, falling somewhere
Page 33


west of the Mississippi River, north of the Texas
panhandle, south of Colorado's northern border, and east
of Utah. This general area included Nebraska, Kansas,
Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Colorado, and the
panhandle region of Texas. A dry, moderate climate was
required to facilitate the use of evaporative cooling,
and it was deemed necessary to place the facility no
less than five miles nor more than 25 miles from a city
with a population of at least 25,000. The living
conditions, community facilities, and recreational
opportunities of the chosen area would have to be
attractive enough to draw and retain the skilled
personnel who would be employed at the plant.53
Requirements for the plant itself stipulated that
land presently owned or controlled by the government was
preferable, or that an isolated site be chosen so that a
minimum number of people would be displaced. A square,
two miles on each side, was required for the plant. The
central square mile of the area had to be reasonably
level and capable of supporting large structures. Air,
rail, and highway transportation nearby were required,
and the facility would have only moderate requirements
for water, power, sewage, and drainage.
Page 34


The survey located 21 cities within the region
that satisfied the population requirement, and these
cities were then judged according to climate, attraction
to workers, and accessibility. Because all important
conditions were relatively constant for any one
locality, the survey determined the locations within the
general area that best satisfied the criteria, and then
selected sites in the most favorable locality. Nine
cities were selected, and field investigations were
conducted for each:
Colorado Springs, Colorado Lincoln, Nebraska
Denver, Colorado Omaha, Nebraska
Pueblo, Colorado Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Topeka, Kansas Amarillo, Texas
Springfield, Missouri
Within these cities over 35 sites were investigated.
Because of their generally dry atmospheric conditions,
only the three Colorado cities satisfied the climate
requirements, and the search was narrowed to Denver,
Pueblo, and Colorado Springs. Pueblo was considered
unsuitable because it lacked attractive environs, was
not well-served by air transportation, and was home to a
vital industrial operation, Colorado Fuel and Iron.
Colorado Springs suffered from the disadvantage of being
served by a single, relatively small electrical utility.
So Denver, which "surpassed the other 20 localities in
Page 35


the degree to which it satisfied the criteria," became
the locality from which a site would be chosen.34
The survey mentioned another factor that weighed
in Denver's favor, its work force. Although the report
recognized that the local labor market was tight, as it
was in all other cities under consideration, Denver had
been Los Alamos' "most fruitful source of machinists,
sub-professional and clerical personnel." The report
also noted that the Denver labor pool was still used
predominantly as a source of workers for employment
outside of the state, rather than locally.35
"Dozens of good sites in the Denver area" were
available, and the field survey narrowed the
possibilities to seven sites nearest the city that were
served with adequate water, power, railroads, and
highways. Site 1 was located immediately north of the
20,000-acre Rocky Mountain Arsenal in Adams County. The
only problems with this location were that it might tend
to become dusty during dry weather and it could prompt
adverse public reaction because of its proximity to the
city and another "secret" federal installation. Site 2
was on farm land northeast of Brighton: it was seen as
having no outstanding advantages and no dependable
source of water. Site 3 was located at Gunbarrel Hill,
Page 36


northeast of Boulder. The most remote site from Denver,
it was not seriously considered.56
The fourth site was located on a rocky plateau 20
highway miles northwest of Denver. The site had many
advantages, particularly the general absence of
residents. The only drawback was its distance, 27 miles
by road, from Stapleton Airfield, somewhat more than the
specifications called for. Site 5 was the closest to
Denver's city limits, just west of the city and south of
Green Mountain. Far from a main railroad line, the main
disadvantage of Site 5 was that it was entirely visible
and easily observed from nearby State Highway 74. Site
6, two miles south of Marston Lake in Jefferson County,
was eliminated because the prevailing winds from the
site blew toward Denver, a condition that "might
constitute an unlikely hazard." Site 7, two miles east
of Site 6, was in the Woolhurst section of Douglas
County. It was also dropped from consideration because
of the direction of the prevailing winds.57
Weighing the relative advantages and
disadvantages of the seven proposed sites, the survey
settled on Site 4 as "best satisfying the Site Selection
Criteria." Twelve reasons were given for the selection
of Rocky Flats:
Page 37


a) Its terrain provides a desirable combination
of a mesa and ravines.
b) Its deep beds of gravel provide good
foundation conditions.
c) The gravel surface, its altitude above the
sandy farm land to the east, and the
closeness of the foothills of the Rocky
Mountains provide maximum protection from
wide-spread or local dust storms which
disrupt the important ventilation system.
d) Water from a reservoir of the City of Denver
is reasonably accessible.
e) It enjoys maximum reliability of electrical
power from adjacent transmission lines with
multiple generating sources.
f) It is within reasonable driving distance and
time of Denver, Boulder and Golden, over good
highways with very little commuting traffic.
g) It is about two miles from the Denver, Rio
Grande and Western Railroad's Moffat Tunnel
mainline. It would be feasible to extend a
sidetrack to the site if this should be
desirable.
h) The property is the least valuable of the
seven Denver sites considered and should be
obtainable for the least cost.
i) The site has the least occupancy of the seven
Denver sites; only one homestead was
apparent.
j) It is remote from any industrial installation
or conceivable military target.
k) It is easily adaptable to any desired degree
of plant security control.
l) It is ideal from the viewpoint of public
relations: minimum displacement of homes,
land used only for minor grazing, and well
removed from any residential area.50
Page 38


Site 1, adjacent to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, was also
considered a superior location, and was offered as an
alternative to Rocky Flats.59
The Engineering and Survey Report contained at
least one fateful error. It noted that "it is desirable
that the site be located to the leeward of any densely
populated area," and that the prevailing winds in the
Denver area were from the south. This favored Sites 1
through 4 which were north of Denver, and served to
eliminate Sites 6 and 7. Apparently these meteorological
observations were conducted at Stapleton Airfield, and
they were correct as far as they went. But 20 miles
northwest of Stapleton at Rocky Flats, both at the
initial site chosen by the survey and at the final site
where the plant was eventually built [see below], the
same meteorological conditions did not exist. At Rocky
Flats the prevailing winds are from the west and
northwest, often blowing directly at downtown Denver.60
A condition which caused two sites to be eliminated
escaped the notice of investigators, an oversight that
would have dire consequences for the plant in later
years. Ironically, the site selection group never
visited the actual plant site, instead investigating an
Page 39


area further north straddling the Boulder-Jefferson
County border.
The AEC was formally notified of the
recommendation of Rocky Flats at a series of secret
meetings held March 14 and 15 in Cleveland and Denver.61
Dow's representative at the meetings, F.H. "Heinie"
Langell, remembered
It was rather funny, the extremes to which we
went to keep our actions secret. But that was
considered necessary at the time. Our group
included representatives of the AEC, Dow
Chemical, and the Austin Company, which had been
chosen to do the primary architectural
engineering and construction. We held our meeting
in the old 01in Hotel in Denver. The hotel was in
the middle of town near the capitol and was in
fact an old ladies' home. But no one seemed to
think it unusual for us to be meeting there.62
And the extremes of secrecy paid off. "The project was
all set before anyone knew anything about it except the
government and related officials directly involved. All
the while it was a perfectly-kept secret. ... No
Boulder or Colorado officials knew anything about it,"
observed a Boulder newspaper.63
Page 40


CHAPTER 5
THE ANNOUNCEMENT
"If it were done when tis done,
Then 'twere well
It were done quickly."
Shakespeare, Macbeth
March 23, 1951, was Good Friday. Denver weather
was sunny and mild, with a high near 60 degrees and a
nighttime low of 25. Gale force winds reaching 65 miles
per hour overnight had caused some problems, forcing
Lowry Air Base to close for several hours, uprooting
trees, and tearing off several roofs. Governor Thornton
praised the 38th General Assembly for "commendable
legislation," but he warned that the pressing issues of
highway development and school finance would have to be
addressed in the next session. Local news was
overshadowed by reports of the latest North Korean
offensive, Alger Hiss was scheduled to begin a five-year
term for perjury, and a Denver communist, 37-year old
Mrs. Patricia Blau, was found in contempt of court for
trying to influence a murder trial. The Colorado State
Senate had recently authorized the use of secret
investigations of anyone advocating the overthrow of the


government, a move aimed specifically at professed
communists.s4
Less pressing news also found its way into the
papers. Rocky Mountain News readers were notified that a
new comic strip, "Peanuts," would debut on Monday, while
the film "Cry Danger" starring Rhonda Fleming and Dick
Powell opened that evening at the RKO-Orpheum theater.
Malcolm Boyd, an actor and Denver native, warned
residents that their brief exposure to television, a
one-day trial held earlier in the week, may have been
fortunate. "It turns home life and habits upside down.
It makes discipline of children very difficult," he
said. Colorado had just been allocated VHF channels 2,
4, 6, and 7, and UHF channels 20 and 26. Residents were
anxious to have the new technology available on a
permanent basis. Meanwhile, the Denver City Council
proposed boosting Mayor Quigg Newton's salary to $14,000
per year; the current level of $6,000 was thought
insufficient to attract quality candidates to the
office.65
None of this prepared local residents for the
day's biggest story. In a series of carefully
orchestrated news conferences held simultaneously in
Denver, Los Alamos, and Washington, D.C., the Atomic
Page 42


Energy Commission announced plans to construct a $45
million atomic energy plant eight miles south of Boulder
and 16 miles northwest of Denver. "News of the plant
broke like a thunderbolt over the community," wrote one
reporter; another saw it as "a full-fledged atomic bomb
of news hit Boulder Friday. ... It came out of a clear
blue sky."66
And it did appear to come out of a clear blue
sky. There had been virtually no hint that the AEC was
considering the Denver area for a production facility.
Several Rocky Flats area residents had expressed concern
about government surveyors who "stalked about the rocky
wasteland squinting through instruments peculiar to
their trade." And Harry Berner of Arvada noted "They
were always out there. And they never said anything. No
matter how many questions you asked them." Aside from
that no one had an inkling of the AEC's intentions.
Governor Thornton said the news came as "a complete
surprise," as did most state and Denver, Boulder, and
Jefferson County officials.67
In a press conference at Denver's Mayflower
Hotel, AEC officials were cryptic about their plans.
Gordon Dean said that the location was "sufficiently
isolated for our purposes and yet within reasonable
Page 43


commuting distance from Boulder, Denver, and Arvada. The
general climate and living conditions are conducive to
the establishment and maintenance of a stable working
force." He indicated no housing would be built at the
site for workers, a change from the procedures followed
at Hanford, Oak Ridge, and Los Alamos. Dick Eliot, an
AEC public information official, said it would be
"permanent type" construction despite the lack of worker
housing, but that "we can't talk further about it or we
would be giving out information for the setting up of a
radar target." He would only reply "No comment" to
questions of whether the new facility would be connected
to production of the hydrogen bomb.68
Officials invoked "national security" and
"security provisions of the Atomic Energy Act" to avoid
detailing the precise nature of the plant, but they did
state that atomic bombs would not be made at Rocky
Flats. They implied that the factory complex would
produce some part of the weapons.69 Since the proposed
size of the facility was much smaller than that of other
AEC installations, and because it would require only
moderate water and electrical supplies, speculation
centered on the idea that a new process for producing
bomb materials had been developed, or that at least an
Page 44


improvement over old methods had been achieved. Five
main areas were cited as possibilities:
1) an efficient method for plutonium production
without using water as a coolant had been
devised;
2) a new process for separating uranium-235
would be introduced at the plant;
3) Rocky Flats would be the first of several new
small plants for producing bomb materials;
4) the plant would work with crude atomic
materials to be used as "radioactive poisons"
like dusts or sprays; or
5) it would serve as an assembly plant for
bombs, admittedly an unlikely prospect due to
the proposed size.70
But AEC officials refused to be drawn into a discussion
of the plant's mission, saying only that it would be
involved in "major but secret type of production.1,71
They did, however, acknowledge that they had been
studying the area for some time. Initial planning had
begun five months earlier, and the first AEC site
inspection party had arrived in February. They had
"searched the entire Midwest and Southwest" for an
appropriate location said an official. Two "secret"
operatives of the Army Corps of Engineers' Missouri
River Division began acquiring the four square mile
tract bisected by the Boulder-Jefferson County line.
Ease of acquisition was a major point in the decision,
Page 45


according to Dean. AEC project manager David W. Persons
noted that only six owners currently held title to the
site, and there was but one dwelling on the land, so the
tract could be purchased for "a nominal price." One
newspaper noted that "the owners have no alternative but
to sell, and they will confer with government
representatives on the price."72
The AEC also announced that the Dow Chemical
Company would operate the plant. Over the last dozen
years, Dow had experienced huge internal growth,
expanding by a factor of eleven, all without benefit of
mergers or acquisitions. Estimated sales for the fiscal
year ending May 31, 1952, were $420 million, with
another $100 million in new plant projected into 1953.
The company allocated 30 top technicians to assist in
the design and construction of Rocky Flats. At the same
time as they accepted the Rocky Flats contract, Dow
joined with the Detroit Edison Company in one of the
AEC's industrial-study contracts, assessing the
feasibility of a dual purpose nuclear reactor to produce
fissionable materials for both weapons and the power
industry. Chairman Earl Bennett summarized Dow's
expansion philosophy: "We build in boom times to keep up
Page 46


with demand; we build in slump times for the future; so
we never stop building."73
General contractor for construction work at Rocky
Flats was the Austin Company, a Cleveland-based firm
that handled much of Dow's construction. Austin and Dow
worked so closely that Austin built a permanent office
on the site of Dow's main complex in Midland,
Michigan.74 Founded 70 years previously by an English
carpenter, Samuel Austin, the company had built defense
plants during both World Wars and had constructed
several atomic plants since 1948. Notable projects it
had been involved in included the Argonne National
Laboratory in DuPage, Illinois; the permanent
laboratories at Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and a $60 million
auto manufacturing facility in the Soviet Union
completed in 1931. The firm claimed $1.3 billion in
engineering and construction contracts on five
continents throughout its history.73
Dow's F.H. Langell was named plant manager for
Rocky Flats, and W.R. Engstrom of Austin was selected as
project manager for construction. David Persons of the
AEC was the overall project manager. Persons had
recently worked as chief of design for the Corps of
Engineers on the John Martin Dam in the Arkansas Valley
Page 47


and on Camp Carson. Dr. L.A. Matheson was named as Dow's
technical director of the plant.76
Other reasons for the selection of Rocky Flats
besides relative isolation and ease of acquisition were
cited by the AEC. Climate influenced the decision, as
the area's low humidity would facilitate the evaporative
cooling system on which the plant would rely. A
perceived invulnerability to enemy attack, the proximity
of adequate living facilities, nearby colleges, and
other unspecified operational requirements were also
factors noted by officials.77
Land in the area was considered too rocky for
cultivation and was used primarily for grazing. Several
small rock and clay quarries operated in the area, as
did a coal mine just to the south of the tract. A
Jefferson County Commissioner said "that land never has
been zoned. We always thought it was worthless."70
Denver boosters were quick to point out that the new
plant would complete a circle of federal installations
around the city: Camp George to the west; Fort Logan
Veterans Administration Hospital to the southwest; Lowry
Field, Buckley Field, and Fitzsimons Army Hospital to
the east; and the Rocky Mountain Arsenal to the
northeast.
Page 48


One problem they hoped to avoid with this new
installation was the exclusive use of outside
contractors. Several months earlier all bids for
additions to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal had been awarded
to out-of-state contractors, and government leaders and
local businessmen wanted Colorado companies to get a
share of the new project. Governor Thornton claimed
"this will certainly have a large effect on our economy.
It will provide much employment for residents of the
state."79 But Colorado's two U.S. Senators, in a joint
telegram, cautioned
For security and possibly other reasons, there
will undoubtedly be some contracts let on other
than competitive basis, and we have urged the
Atomic Energy Commission to give special
consideration to the suitability of Colorado
contractors for entering into contracts of this
kind. Atomic Energy Commission representatives
assured us they will give close attention to the
matter. We urge that Colorado contractors keep
themselves closely advised on the developments,
keep their qualifications before the appropriate
persons and advise us as to any threat of
discrimination.80
Earlier, Johnson and Millikin had been joined by U.S.
Rep. William S. Hill in writing to the AEC chairman that
it was "especially urged that special care should be
taken not to exclude Colorado contractors and
subcontractors from this area of business."81
Page 49


The AEC said that it planned to hire about 2,000
workers during the peak construction period, and that
the plant would have a permanent work force of about
1,000. Engstrom warned that after the plant was in
operation most permanent employees "would come from
outside." Langell agreed, noting that very few jobs
would be available to Colorado residents. Citing
complicated and difficult construction techniques,
Engstrom said bidding information would be released to
interested firms at an unspecified later date.2
Even if Colorado firms and workers would not
receive the lion's share of the contracts, Rocky Flats
loomed as a major player in the state economy. With the
initial construction slated for $45 million, the plant
would become one of the largest concerns in the Rocky
Mountain region. Denver's Gates Rubber Company, the
city's largest industrial enterprise, reported assets of
$44 million, while Pueblo's Colorado Fuel and Iron had
assets of over $100 million, with plant and equipment
estimated to be worth $62 million.83 Clearly, even a
small portion of the Rocky Flats' contracts would have a
significant impact on the local economy.
Page 50


To ease any fears residents might entertain about
the safety of the new atomic plant, Senators Johnson and
Millikin cabled their assurances:
We have made careful inquiry as to the dangers in
the operation. We are assured by those who should
be competent to judge that, based on the study of
several years experience with identical
operations, the hazard to employees is
exceptionally low and that the hazard to
communities is practically nonexistent. We have
been assured that the location selected is the
best in the United States for the purpose and
that because of its distance from potential
enemies the hazards from enemy action are reduced
to the minimum.4
Although they realized that no "identical operations"
existed, AEC officials concurred with the optimistic
tone of the cable. Their press release indicated that
"protective measures used in the atomic energy program
have been so effective that the commission's safety
record is better than in industry generally."05
Within a week of the Rocky Flats announcement the
AEC confirmed that it was considering the possibility of
locating a second atom plant near Boulder, a laboratory
for basic physics research on the site of the Bureau of
Standards. Speculation about the low-temperature
research laboratory centered on its connections to the
hydrogen bomb.86
Page 51


And to top off a week of big news in the Denver
area, the Boston Braves of major league baseball's
National League announced plans to play two exhibition
games the following weekend against the Denver Bears,
the first time a major league club would play as a team
in Denver.87
Page 52


CHAPTER 6
"AGETTIN' A BIG STICK:" THE REACTION
"They feel that they
live in a time of big
decisions; they know that
they are not making any."
C.Wright Mills, The Power Elite
Immediate citizen reaction to the proposed atomic
plant was a mixture of elation and apprehension. Some
looked at the installation as a source of jobs, an
addition to the state's tax base, and as part of
Colorado's contribution to the national defense effort.
Others viewed the facility as a menace, a target for
enemy bombs which increased the area's likelihood of
being incinerated should an atomic war break out. A few
questioned the implications the plant itself would have
on the region.
Denver clerk Marie Ward was among the
enthusiasts: "I think it's wonderful. Anything that can
be done for the defense effort should be done. These
people who get frightened over such things give me a
pain in the neck." Bob Bissell, a salesman, also took an
optimistic outlook. "I worked in Albuquerque," he said.
"The location of Sandia Air Base there didn't make much


of a difference, except that there was a lot more money
in circulation. I'm in favor of it because Denver needs
more payrolls."BB
Jim Henderson, an 83-year old rancher who once
ran cattle in the Rocky Flats area, showed no remorse at
the loss of his old rangelands: "Well, sir, I'm tickled,
this is wonderful. Mr. Roosevelt used to talk about the
'big stick' and now we're agettin' a big stick right up
on the flats. I'm all for it, there's no use of having
those boys dying with rifles in their hands when we got
this bomb." And shoe repairman George Orrino believed
that "a town as dull as this one could stand a few split
atoms. I'm all for the new plant."09
Reaction of state, city, and county officials was
even more enthusiastic. Governor Thornton was pleased
with the economic prospects promised by the plant, but
"as to whether it makes us a more desirable target for
an attack, I couldn't say I'm not a military man. I'll
be happy to move the capitol to Gunnison if that proves
to be the case."90 Boulder Mayor J. Perry Bartlett
called the announcement "a wonderful thing for Boulder.
It may bring some problems but they are far outweighed
by the advantages. I feel no alarm over any potential
hazard from the location of the plant near Boulder."
Page 54


City Manager Bert Johnson said "I hope we are worthy of
the challenge.1,91
Contributing to the nation's security was a theme
mentioned by several civic leaders. "The leaders of our
national defense have acknowledged the importance of
having a strong university nearby," said Robert L.
Stearns, president of the University of Colorado. Frank
Henderson, president of the Boulder Chamber of Commerce,
maintained "this development represents another
important element of progress for Boulder. It is too bad
that the operation, for the present at least, has to be
related to war and destruction, and yet we should
welcome the opportunity to contribute to the nation's
defense program." The Boulder Chamber's secretary-
manager, Francis W. Reisch, agreed with this assessment,
adding "I am not a bit concerned over what effect it
might have towards making this area a target. . The
defense of our way of life is our problem just as much
as that of any other community."92
Denver newspapers were also lavish in their
praise of the contribution the defense plant would make
to the area. The Post editorialized that
the location of the $45-million atomic plant in
the Denver area will be a source of satisfaction
Page 55


to all residents who have an abiding faith in
Colorado's destiny and future greatness.
The statement made in Washington that one
reason for the location is the close proximity of
the site to the Colorado School of Mines and the
universities of Denver and Colorado is
particularly significant. It seems to indicate
that the new project will offer new opportunities
to scientific students of those schools.
The slight possibility that the location of
the A-plant here might increase the likelihood
that Denver would be bombed in the event of an
all-out war is a calculated risk.
With or without an A-plant, a city the size of
Denver which is an important transportation
center would be a tempting target. We cannot
shape our lives on the idea that the only safe
place in this strife-ridden world is a cave in
the mountains.
The A-plant will mean a great deal to Denver
and all Colorado. Joe M. Brody, Denver's most
enthusiastic prophet, will interpret this
development as another sure indication that the
metropolitan area will have a population of a
million people before many years. Darned if we
don't agree with him!93
The Rocky Mountain News also touched on the main themes
of economic development and national security:
For our part, we are proud that the area has
been chosen for another important contribution to
the nation's strength and future security.
We are satisfied that the AEC and Dow Chemical
Company, which will operate the plant, will be
pleased with the site.
This new plant will be another addition to the
growth and development of the Greater Denver
area.
We are glad it is coming here.94
Senator Millikin noted that "it's going to be a
lot safer to work in this particular installation than
in many other industries not engaged in atomic research
or production." He and Senator Johnson agreed that Rocky
Page 56


Flats would be "the safest of all atomic energy
plants."9S
Along with this boosterism and optimism came some
cautionary appraisals. Representative Hill noted that
"the influx of workers will tax available water supplies
and highways to capacity," but thought area towns would
be able to furnish sufficient housing. He indicated that
he would seek additional defense appropriations to
include funds for schools, roads, and other public works
that would need to be improved.96 F.O. Repplier,
president of the Boulder County school board, warned
that probable school overcrowding increased the
likelihood of double sessions. Others in Boulder cited
the costs of maintaining various municipal functions in
the event of large numbers of workers moving into the
city as a problem, while some bemoaned the loss of
desirable small town characteristics as development
progressed. The growing prospects of their city becoming
a target for enemy bombs was another concern mentioned
by Boulder residents.97
Denverites also worried about the implications
Rocky Flats would have for their city. "I just bought a
house a few days ago. Since hearing this news I'm
extremely happy it's an older type construction. They're
Page 57


supposed to be sturdier, you know," said advertising
specialist Walter Kranz. Harold Shuteran, an insurance
agent, believed "I would rather see other types of
industry come to Denver and Colorado. Defense plants are
all right when they're in operation, but once the need
for them is past, you have nothing left but empty
shells. I'd prefer to see the Atomic Energy Commission
concentrate its activities in the Nevada desert."
Cleaning shop owner Frank Beaver was another not pleased
with the news. "What good is a business if there aren't
any people?" he asked. "There might be more people for
awhile, when the workers start coming in. But then, in
the long run, there may be no people. I don't like it."
Doris Lybrand, an elevator operator, wanted more time
before making up her mind: "I haven't given it much
thought. There's probably a lot to be said on both
sides, but I'm reserving my opinion until I think the
matter over some more."98
Golden Mayor Everett Barnhardt thought the plant
"will cause quite a housing problem," but he noted that
at least it would mean a good foothills road would
finally be built linking his city with Boulder. Dr.
Thomas J. Mills, mayor of Arvada, worried that his town
would receive the brunt of the traffic to the plant. The
Page 58


needs of present residents were his primary concern, and
the new plant "is going to cause us lots of headaches."
The mayors of Boulder, Arvada, and Golden all claimed
that little rental property was available in their
cities, and that most current building was comprised of
small houses."
Indeed, construction of the plant threatened to
intensify an already tight housing and labor market in
the area. The towns of Golden, Englewood, and Littleton,
the only three in the region currently not subject to
rent controls, were faced with the prospect of
reinstituting them. Area Rent Director Charles M. Queary
termed the area's housing condition "critical."100
Dr. Gail Gilbert, runner-up in Arvada's mayoral
race, warned that his town was not in position to handle
the expected population boom. "It's apparent that Arvada
is to take the brunt of the increase in population,"
said Gilbert. "Arvada doesn't have room in its
boundaries for housing, until it has the utilities. We
may have to allow the utilities to extend beyond our
boundaries, and that's something we may have to do
suddenly."101
The Denver office of the State Employment Service
said employment was at an all-time high, and warned that
Page 59


a labor shortage was imminent for the metropolitan area.
Unemployment was close to an "irreducible minimum," and
the new defense installation's manpower requirements
would result in a critical labor market or drastic
reductions in less essential employment. The prevailing
high level of employment was attributed to increased
numbers of federal jobs, greater demand for consumer
goods, and continued regional growth. Shortages loomed
for male unskilled labor, engineers, technicians,
stenographers, typists, office machine operators, and
skilled laborers.102
Boulder County found it necessary to enact a
freeze on all non-residential building near the Rocky
Flats site on April 3. The measure banned "erection,
construction, reconstruction or alteration of any
building or structure used or to be used for any
business, industrial or commercial purposes," effective
immediately and for a period not longer than six months.
Jefferson County also initiated a freeze on
construction; both counties had been overwhelmed with
applications for liquor licenses and building permits on
land near the plant site. Since the area had never been
zoned, county commissioners thought it prudent to
Page 60


implement the bans until zoning regulations could be
imposed.103
Governor Thornton delayed final action on a bill
passed by the legislature that would have set up a
formula for future land acquisitions by the federal
government. The bill required that both affected county
commissioners and the state tax commission approve the
acquisitions, but Thornton decided to withhold his
signature until it was determined if the law would block
construction of Rocky Flats.104
State Highway Engineer Mark U. Watrous ordered a
swift survey of road conditions in the area surrounding
the plant. He indicated that development of Highway 93
linking Boulder and Golden would receive immediate
priority so it could facilitate construction of the
plant, and that plans were being drawn to convert
Highway 72, joining Denver and Arvada, into a limited
access freeway similar to West 6th Avenue. Watrous said
that the AEC would probably assume a significant portion
of the costs for these improvements. The Denver-Boulder
Bus Company applied for an additional scheduled run
between the two cities via the Rocky Flats plant,
calling it "the atomic plant route."105
Page 61


The Civil Aeronautics Administration announced
that air traffic would be restricted in the vicinity of
Rocky Flats after construction was completed. James A.
Fisk, air safety agent for the CAA in Denver, assumed
that the controls would be similar to those imposed in
the air space around Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, and Hanford.
"We just want to know who is flying in these areas and
where he is going," said Fisk. It was also announced
that Denver would be one of 26 cities to receive
advanced airport surveillance radar within the year. The
new system, with a range of 30 miles, would be used to
monitor civilian aircraft.106
Henry L. Larsen, the state's civil defense
director, used the news of the plant to try and wrangle
more money out of the legislature for his program. He
stated that the siting of Rocky Flats heightened the
state's need for civil defense training and protection,
arguing that the $100,000 he was allocated through next
February was insufficient. "Four cents per capita
allowed by the Legislature for state defense is not
considered adequate for the type of civil defense
contemplated," he wrote to the governor. Larsen asked
for an appropriation of $350,000. As if to prove his
point, just one month later Denver, Pueblo, and Colorado
Page 62


Springs were totally destroyed in a mock air raid
designed to test Colorado's civil defense program.107
General Nathan F. Twining, vice chief of the U.S.
Air Force, confirmed many residents' worst fears when he
said Rocky Flats would increase the city's vulnerability
as an air target. But he also provided some reassurance
to Coloradans concerned that they were now high on the
list of potential targets. "Naturally, we will put
fighters in the air and provide other standard ground
protection. Usually a radar screen is concentrated
fairly close to an atomic center," he said. Touring
Lowry Air Force Base, Twining maintained that the Rocky
Mountain area was the best in the nation in terms of
ability to resist an enemy onslaught: "Geographically
and by reason of the mountain barriers, this section of
the country would be much harder for an enemy to
attack."loa
With visions of Armageddon, a booming economy,
scarce housing, plentiful jobs, and crowded highways
vying for their attention, Colorado residents could be
forgiven if they felt overwhelmed by the events of the
past weeks. One local columnist, Pasquale Marranzino,
was able to step back and view the proceedings from a
broader perspective:
Page 63


For my money, and some of it will go for the
plants, I wish Uncle Sam was building a glue
factory or at least a home for broken-down five-
percenters near Boulder and out on Rocky Flats.
In a matter of months men of intelligence and
purpose, patriotism and ambition will begin
tinkering with the scientific version of Russian
roulette right in our own backyard.
Possibly it satisfies that will-o'-the-wisp
desire to live dangerously on the brink of the
chasm where death and destruction have made up
the bed and turned back the covers.
I have more pleasant memories of Rocky Flats.
I can close my eyes and envision my father
dodging its huge boulders, pushed there by some
prehistoric glacier, in a rattling Model T.
I can remember picking flowers, hunting
grouse, searching for wild cherries along the
slopes of Rocky Flats.
That was before the atom got itself split and
when the world was wonderful and World War I was
The Last War.
I knew Rocky Flats when. It seems too young to
die and I wish Washington would reconsider and
build its atom plants in Texas.109
Page 64


CHAPTER 7
"THE ATOM PEOPLE AREN'T SAYING MUCH":
CONSTRUCTION AND EARLY OPERATION
OF ROCKY FLATS
Within six weeks of their announcement that they
intended to build an atomic facility at Rocky Flats,
Atomic Energy Commission officials were forced to change
the site of the plant. The original tract, straddling
the boundary line between Boulder and Jefferson
counties, was declared unsuitable due to complications
involving surface and subsurface property rights. As a
result, the site of the operation was moved one mile
south and one mile east of the original location. This
put the plant entirely within Jefferson County, and
involved fewer property owners according to the AEC.11
The AEC made another important announcement the
next day. It indicated that ground-breaking for a $1.8
million low-temperature research laboratory in Boulder
would begin May 9. The lab would be operated by the
Bureau of Standards and located on its 217-acre site
near the Foothills Parkway (Highway 93) and the Denver-
Boulder Turnpike. The site had been purchased the
previous year for $75,000. Stearns-Rodgers Manufacturing
Company of Denver received an $800,000 contract for


construction of the facility, with the remaining money
earmarked for instruments and equipment. The AEC
indicated that about 70 highly skilled employees would
work at the lab.111
Preliminary work on Rocky Flats began on
Wednesday, May 9. Carpenters erected a small guardhouse
that commanded access to the rough construction road
from Highway 93. A tight-lipped foreman declined to
answer reporters' questions about activity in the area,
explaining that he was "under explicit instructions to
secrecy." All visitors were turned away, and a 24-hour
guard was mounted. An AEC spokesman in Los Alamos said
he had no news on final acquisition of the two square
miles of land on which the plant was to be built, but
that appraisals by the Corps of Engineers should be
completed within 10 days. At issue were the Lindsay
Hereford Ranch and the Church Ranch lands.112
Project engineer David Persons announced that
construction would begin without clear title to the
property having been acquired. He sought to reassure
local businessmen that they would have a role to play in
the plant's construction, saying "We insist upon as much
local purchasing and subcontracting as possible, as well
as the use of local labor." Persons declined to disclose
Page 66


the projected completion date for the plant because it
might serve as "a tipoff to Joe Stalin."113
Construction of permanent buildings began in
June, at the same time that final negotiations were
underway to acquire full title to the land. The first
permanent structure was a "secret" processing building,
but temporary inspectors' sheds, site offices, and a
first aid station were already completed. Ground-
breaking on the first permanent building began July 16,
supervised by Edmund J. Goodheart of the Austin
Company.114 Persons estimated that two-thirds of the $45
million cost of the plant would be allocated to facility
construction, with the remainder going to land costs,
engineering fees, equipment, and furnishings. "Much of
the construction, including mechanical and electrical
phases, will be sub-contracted giving due consideration
to contractors in the Denver and Colorado area who are
qualified for the job," said Persons. He estimated that
as much as 50 percent of the work would be
subcontracted. The first bids were to cover construction
of security fences, a warehouse, the administration
building, and permanent security guard and first aid
stations. Those bids would be issued in June, with other
contracts to be announced in July and August.115
Page 67


AEC chairman Gordon Dean gave a hint of the
future when he said that Rocky Flats might be enlarged
far beyond the present planned scope and size. Dean also
indicated that nationwide, one-fifth of the 5,700
federal atomic energy workers were involved in security.
Despite the revelations of spies such as Klaus Fuchs,
"the Russians aren't getting any information from us
now," said Dean. James A. O'Brien, a former investigator
for the Bureau of Narcotics and Army intelligence
officer, was appointed chief of security at the plant.
He had been with the AEC since 1947, working in security
positions at several facilities.116
By late September the AEC administrative officer
for Rocky Flats, Michael J. Sunderland, said
construction work was "moving ahead at full speed" and
he expected a steady stream of contracts to be awarded
in the next few months. The processing plant was well
underway, but again no completion date could be given
due to security reasons.11-7
Among the early contracts awarded to local firms
were: $500,000 for concrete work to Colorado Pre-Mixed
Concrete; $50,000 for excavation work to Hinman Brothers
Construction Company; $1 million for wiring of technical
buildings to Collier Electric Company; and $2 million
Page 68


for plumbing, heating, and mechanical installations to a
combine composed of McCarty and Johnson, Inc., Johnson
and Davis Plumbing and Heating, and Bell Plumbing and
Heating. Plans were announced for the laying of a spur
line from either the Denver and Rio Grande Western
tracks four miles south of the plant or from the
Colorado and Southern railroad six miles to the east of
the plant.11
The AEC also offered one of its few clues to the
nature of the new plant, hinting that Rocky Flats would
have some connection to weapons production, but denying
that it would be the site for final assembly of nuclear
bombs. Officials did acknowledge that radioactive
materials would be handled in a secret new production
process, and that the process set Rocky Flats apart from
any other AEC installation.119
An AEC media relations representative, when
questioned as to the need for a laundry at the plant,
replied that "it's common knowledge that when you are
working with radioactive materials you have a
decontamination problem." He also asserted that the
plant offered no threat at all to the health of workers
or residents of nearby communities. "Workers on the
project will be safer than downtown office workers who
Page 69


have to cross busy streets on their way to lunch," he
maintained.120
In its final Rocky Flats announcement of 1951,
the AEC said that approximately $6 million in contracts
would be awarded by the end of February, 1952.121
January, 1952 saw the agency release an
architect's rendering prepared by the Austin Company of
the planned administrative building and a combined
medical and plant protection facility. The two-story
administration building, to be shared by Dow Chemical
and agency staffers, included 40,000 square feet of
office space, while the medical/security building was
11,000 square feet. Costs for the projects were expected
to range from $1 million to $1.3 million, with bids to
be opened January 18 at the Brown Palace Hotel.122
As construction moved into high gear a shroud of
secrecy descended over Rocky Flats. The public received
their last look at the facility on October 11, 1951, the
last time reporters were allowed on the site until
construction was completed. Many Coloradans were growing
restive. Ten miles of barbed-wire fencing enclosed the
plant: a three-foot high fence had been erected to keep
stray cattle and horses away, and another nine-foot
electrified fence was designed to discourage curious
Page 70


people. Armed guards patrolled the perimeter of the
plant, and only temporary structures were visible from
the highway. Permanent structures such as the processing
building were tucked inside an arroyo on the eastern
escarpment of the Rocky Flats plateau. A reporter noted
that "just what will be produced will probably not be
known until a free world can examine atomic progress
without fear," and "the atom people aren't saying
much."123
Indeed, "we won't be able to tell when these
various projects are started, how they're progressing
and when they'll be completed. We know that sounds ultra
hush-hush but we're quite sure the public wants that
when it comes to atomic work," maintained the AEC's
Sunderland. He announced that 20 major projects would
begin within the year, and that about 1,000 male and 200
female employees would staff the complex when completed.
All but 300 would be hired locally, and all would
require "Q clearance," a top-secret designation reserved
for atomic workers that required a background check
covering the last 15 years of the employee's life.124
By the spring of 1952 there were 800 construction
workers on the site, with about three times that number
expected by summer. Water supply workers had recently
Page 71


staged a one-week strike, but the grievance had been
resolved and work was continuing. A total of $1.6
million worth of contracts had been awarded so far.
Still to be awarded were bids for $81,000 for an alarm
and communications system, $164,000 for electrical
distribution systems, $795,000 for the administration
building, $71,000 for a water supply line, $90,000 for a
300,000-gallon water tank, $850,000 for a general
machine shop and warehouse, $100,000 for a sanitary
sewer system, and $225,000 for electrical work. The
Austin Company received a $20 million contract for
unspecified technical structures.125
By the end of the first year since the
announcement, AEC officials said that construction was
proceeding on schedule, with $2.5 million in contracts
awarded so far. About 1,100 construction workers and 17
AEC employees were currently at the plant, and Dow
Chemical was stepping up its recruiting efforts at local
and state colleges. "Every effort is being made to
obtain the plant's entire operating force from the local
area labor pool," claimed a spokesman. Considerable
quantities of scarce items, such as transformers and
heavy industrial equipment, were being stockpiled at the
plant site. No serious injuries had been reported to
Page 72


date, with only five minor injuries per million hours
worked and .22 days lost due to injuries, according to
the AEC.126
Firms holding contracts included Hinman Brothers
for excavation and grading; Harold P. Doty of Garden
City, Kansas for test borings; Collier Electric for
mechanical subcontracting; McMurtry Manufacturing for
interior and exterior glazing; John C. Reeves for
acoustical tile ceilings, asphalt tile flooring, and
wall insulation; Western Elateril Roofing for roof
insulation and waterproofing; W.A. McKay for plastering,
furring, and lathing; Marbelette Denver Floor Company
for spark-proof flooring; Colorado Constructors, Inc.,
for roadway excavation; Scott Insulation and Supply for
insulation of plumbing, heating, ventilation, and air
conditioning components; Craftsman Painters and
Decorators for painting; and Pittsburgh Plate Glass
Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for glazing. [Local
firms unless otherwise noted.] Bids for eight major
projects were to released shortly. These included a
power substation, heating plant and steam lines, and
water treatment plant on March 31; general laboratory in
early April; eight small buildings on April 16; sewage
treatment plant on April 17; water line to Ralston
Page 73


Reservoir in early spring; and roads on site in early
summer.12-7
By midsummer the AEC reported that construction
was running well ahead of schedule, and that the major
portion of the work would be completed by early 1953.
Project field manager Admiral Gilbert C. Hoover
reiterated that the plant "will work with radioactive
materials but there will be no weapons manufacture or
production." The peak of construction work had occurred
in July with employment of 2,800 workers. That effort
was now tapering off. Hoover, a 35-year naval officer
and Annapolis graduate, had just completed a stint at
the Sandia National Laboratory and was recently named to
replace David Persons. He announced that $40 million in
contracts had been awarded so far, with three-fourths of
the money being spent in Colorado. The construction
payroll was expected to reach $14 million by completion,
with $13 million of that going to state workers.120
Once again the AEC retreated behind a cloak of
secrecy, offering little substantive news of
developments at Rocky Flats for over a year. It did
release several innocuous photographs of the
administration building and "main clockroom," but
Page 74


otherwise gave out no information on plant
operations.129
Full title to the land was finally secured when a
federal jury awarded a Jefferson County couple $49,216
for 400 acres seized by the government for Rocky Flats.
Frank and Carrie Rodgers were also granted severance
damages of $6,997. Government appraisals had valued the
land at $12-$20,000; the Rodgers' claimed it was worth
$132,000. In total the government had condemned 2,560
acres for the plant.130
In September 1953 Hoover announced "we are
sufficiently close to completion that we can say the
total cost will be very close to $43,739,000." All
manual construction laborers were slated to be off the
job by the end of the month. Hoover declined to discuss
the purpose of the facility, saying only that Rocky
Flats "will play an important part in the defense of
this country" and that it fell within the jurisdiction
of the AEC's Santa Fe Operations Office "which has to do
with research, development, testing and production of
weapons." Nineteen major contracts with 17 firms had
been awarded. The Austin Company had been the main
contractor, receiving bids totaling $34.5 million, of
which $19 million had been spent locally.131
Page 75


Four months later the AEC reported an increased
tempo in all phases of research and development, both
civilian and military. It said weapons were being
produced "at a pace directed by the President," and
acknowledged that a weapons research laboratory had been
operating at Livermore, California since June, 1952. As
for Rocky Flats, officials maintained that extensive
safety precautions were exercised in the area and that
operating experience demonstrated "no abnormal
industrial hazard. . in any area." Recurring rumors of
danger to humans, animals, and crops near the plant were
dismissed by Hoover, who stated that Dow Chemical's
safety record was "better than most conventional
industrial plants. Every feasible safety device was
incorporated into the plant design. Extensive safety
procedures have been in effect inside the plant area and
in the surrounding countryside throughout the
operational period." Working conditions at the plant
were described by Hoover as "superior to those generally
encountered."13 2
A federal condemnation suit was also
acknowledged, with the trial set for April or May. Mrs.
Katharine Church, and her son Marcus Church, claimed
that "the construction and operation of the atomic
Page 76


energy project on the land taken had rendered their
remaining land unsafe for grazing, agriculture and
habitation." The Churches retained a 1,160-acre tract
adjacent to the plant.133
Plant managers had acknowledged that Rocky Flats
was "in production" by the fall of 1953, but what was
being produced remained a matter of conjecture. An AEC
report covering the agency's activities for the second
half of the year mentioned Rocky Flats only once in an
organizational appendix. The plant was listed under the
division of military application. AEC commissioner Henry
D. Smyth said the plant was "doing a very fine job," but
refused to respond to questions concerning just what
that job might be. He would say that he believed "the
existence of atomic weapons offers some promise of
bringing the people who run the world to their
senses."134
Dow Chemical's initial contract for operating
Rocky Flats expired in the fall of 1954. The AEC
announced in October that the company would continue as
the plant's operator through June 1957 under a new
$436,000 annual contract. The agency also cited the
company for its safety record at the plant, granting it
an award of merit for reaching one million man-hours
Page 77


worked without suffering a disabling injury. To date
three such injuries had occurred. The most recent, on
February 23, 1953, had involved a vehicular accident.135
This was only one of many safety awards the plant
received in its first years of operation. A partial list
of awards received by Dow Chemical in recognition of
safety achievements includes:
1952 Certificate of Achievement Manufacturing Chemists Association; for no lost time injuries.
Award of Merit AEC; for no lost time injuries.
1953 Certificate Colorado Industrial Commission; for lower accident and severity rates than national average.
1954 Plaque, Award of Merit AEC; for 1,070,604 man- hours without lost time injuries.
Certificate Colorado Industrial Commission; for lower accident and severity rates than national average.
1955 Certificate Colorado Industrial Commission; for no lost time injuries.
Certificate of Achievement Manufacturing Chemists Association; for no lost time injuries.
Page - 78
78


1956
Plaque, Award of Honor National Safety Council;
for 3,007,778 man-hours
without disabling
injuries.
Plaque, Award of Honor AEC; for 3,007,778 man-
hours without disabling
injuries.
Trophy Colorado Industrial
Commission; for
3,000,000 man-hours
without accidents.
Plaque, Award of Merit
1957
AEC; for 1,993,898 man-
hours without disabling
injuries.136
Hoover took great satisfaction with these awards,
particularly the absence of any radiation related
injuries. In early 1955 he noted that the most serious
injuries occurring at the plant happened when a female
employee fell and broke her elbow and when a
construction worker sliced off a finger in a bandsaw
mishap.
Dow was now employing 1,097 workers at Rocky
Flats, with an annual payroll estimated at $5,140,000.
The AEC maintained 17 employees at the plant.13-7
Coloradans' first substantive information about
the nature and mission of Rocky Flats came in the summer
of 1955. AEC chairman Lewis L. Strauss inadvertently
acknowledged that the plant was engaged in nuclear
Page 79


weapon production, and not devoted to peacetime
development of atomic energy. In Denver to advise
President Eisenhower on the recently concluded
International Atoms for Peace conference, Strauss
"appeared startled" when questioned about Rocky Flats.
"That is a weapons center," he said. "It would be off-
limits to discuss it at this conference in fact,
discussion of the project is off-limits anywhere." When
asked about local residents' health concerns, Strauss
replied "I'd have to give the matter considerable
thought before saying anything about it. I can't even
promise whether anything can be released after that."130
The first major expansion of the plant was
announced in September 1955. The AEC indicated that the
$13.5 million expansion would include two new buildings
and related facilities, along with modifications to
three existing buildings. Catalytic Construction Company
of Philadelphia was the lead contractor for the work,
which was expected to be completed by early 1957.
Currently, Dow employed 1,061 workers at the plant, the
AEC had 22, and one military liaison was permanently
assigned there. Agency spokesmen refused to answer
questions about the plant's role in weapons production,
saying only that it was involved in "research,
Page 80


development, production and testing of atomic weapons.
Rocky Flats is a classified production plant and handles
radioactive materials. Production may include phases of
fabrication, assembly of parts, procurement, production
engineering, receipt and shipment, inspection and
quality assurance, etc. Further information regarding
the function of the plant would be of value to
unfriendly nations and cannot be disclosed."139
Another year would pass before residents learned
officially the Rocky Flats was a "weapons production
facility," and this news came only in circuitous
fashion. The AEC's twentieth semi-annual report to
Congress listed the plant under the heading "Additions
to the Weapons Production Complex," noting that an
expansion of the plant was underway and "corresponding
necessary expansion of other weapon production
facilities is planned. The U.S. family of weapons in
various stages of research, development, and production
engineering is increasing rapidly." The report also
mentioned that Admiral Hoover had been replaced as plant
manager by Seth R. Woodruff, who was assisted by Charles
C. Campbell. The news led reporters to speculate that
Rocky Flats was probably one component of the weapons
Page 81


production chain, but not by itself a producer of
weapons.140
Five years and six months after they were told
that an atomic plant was to be built nearby, Coloradans
finally learned the broad outlines of what was being
done at Rocky Flats.
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CHAPTER 8
EPILOGUE: ROCKY FLATS TODAY
Pundits like to point out that most weapons
programs are developed in two stages, too soon to tell
and too late to stop. In the case of Rocky Flats, we
have seen how the "too soon to tell" phase lasted for
more than five years, and now the "too late to stop"
period seems destined to continue for quite some time.
Just as it was 40 years ago, Rocky Flats today is
a major factor in the economic picture of the Denver
metropolitan area. As of August 1990, the plant was the
fifth largest manufacturing operation in the region,
ranking ahead of such well-known firms as Gates Rubber,
Storage Technology, Cobe Labs, and Samsonite. Only
Martin Marietta, Adolph Coors Company, IBM, and AT&T
ranked ahead of Rocky Flats in number of employees for
manufacturing concerns. The total economic impact of the
plant for 1990 was estimated at $823,381,000. Latest
figures put the number of employees at the plant at
6,238, and the facility's 1991 budget is $787.4
million.141


Since the time of Rocky Flats' construction a
degree of concern about the safety of nearby residents
has been apparent. A fire and explosion in the plutonium
processing building in September 1957 sparked fears of
dangerous radiation releases. These worries were
exacerbated on May 11, 1969, when, in what was then the
most expensive industrial accident in American history,
a piece of scrap plutonium spontaneously ignited and
caused $45 million in damage to the plant, an amount
equal to the initial construction cost of Rocky
Flats.142 That unease developed into an uproar by the
mid-1970s, complete with annual protests at the plant
attended by thousands, and has not abated yet. A state
task force appointed to study the plant in 1975 noted
that there were
grave misgivings about the Plant's safety and the
potential for a cataclysmic accident. ... We
believe it an inescapable conclusion that there
is a risk associated with the Rocky Flats Plant.
. It seems certain that if the criteria
evaluated for the original siting of the Rocky
Flats Plant were applied for siting today, the
Rocky Flats Plant would not be located near a
densely populated area. The certainty that such a
plant would not today be located at Rocky Flats,
as well as our feelings that accidents will
continue to occur even under the best
circumstances, dictate our belief that such a
plant should not be located at Rocky Flats.143
Page 84


The Colorado Department of Health (CDH) noted at
the time that "It is doubtful whether the plant site
could ever be decontaminated for general public
occupancy from a practical standpoint or based on
economics."144 Two years later, Dr. Anthony Robbins,
director of the CDH, said the plant's
siting was clearly a mistake. The federal
government made a decision to place a plant with
a large quantity of plutonium and a lot of other
trace elements pretty much within the Denver
metropolitan area. When the plant was built in
1952, we were in a different era. At that time
there was a tremendous effort to convince
everyone that nuclear power and nuclear materials
were safe. Everything we now know suggests they
are really very unsafe.145
Despite these admissions, Jefferson County Health
Department Director Dr. Carl J. Johnson was forced to
resign in 1981 for publishing studies that indicated a
connection between Rocky Flats plutonium operations and
increased infant mortality and incidence of cancer among
area residents.146
In recent years the Department of Energy has
conceded the validity of these points. "A design review
for Rocky Flats Plant is particularly pertinent," it
noted, adding that "the technical standards employed at
the time [of construction] were largely those of the
operating contractor or were manufacturers' association
Page 85


standards. A uniform policy for application of industry
engineering codes and standards was not in place."14-7 A
1988 report submitted to Congress by President Ronald
Reagan cited problems of aging facilities, waste clean-
up, and public opposition to plants like Rocky Flats as
reasons for the need to modernize the weapons complex.
It recommended that plant activities be relocated within
the next 10 years, but assigned the relocation only a
third-level priority, a rating that was considered
"optimal for the future," but dependent on funding. Even
given adequate funding, the relocation process would
continue until at least 2010.140
The DOE has estimated that the cost of cleaning
up its weapons plants could reach $6 billion per year
later this decade, about two times the present level of
spending. Leo Duffy, director of the DOE's environmental
management office, said "Were going to get it from the
taxpayer. There's no other supply." The Reagan report
estimated that replacing Rocky Flats would cost $3.3
billion, with additional operating funds of $1.2 billion
and $1.6 billion required for transition and
decommission and decontamination, respectively, of the
current site.149
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Due to repeated safety problems and the
accumulation of radioactive waste at the plant site, all
plutonium operations at Rocky Flats were suspended in
November 1989. Within several months a Department of
Defense official maintained that it was "absolutely
critical" that production operations be resumed. Energy
Secretary James Watkins agreed, saying "there will be
severe ramifications" for the nation's supply of nuclear
weapons if production of plutonium triggers did not
resume "pretty soon." Calling the plant "kind of a
wounded animal out there, barely hanging in there,"
Watkins vowed that work would resume at the plant.
Current plant manager Bob Nelson has indicated that
fabrication of triggers could resume by the end of this
year, and President George Bush's February 4, 1991
budget submittal to Congress included a $283 million
supplemental request necessary to restart plutonium
operations at the plant.150
More recently, Watkins has recommended a
restructuring of the weapons complex that would remove
all plutonium operations from Rocky Flats, a process
that is projected to take up to 20 years and cost from
$3.6 billion to $4.3 billion. Watkins observed "much of
the current nuclear weapons complex was constructed
Page 87


three or four decades ago and is now in need of repairs
or replacement. If a strong nuclear deterrent is to
remain a key component of this nation's national
security program, then we must reconfigure the nuclear
weapons complex to meet our future needs." A final
decision on the restructuring plan is expected in 1993.
But, as Watkins said, "We have to live with Rocky Flats
working the plutonium issue for at least 20 years. You
don't transfer a Rocky Flats function. You're talking
about billions and billions of dollars of reinvestment
in somebody else's back yard. I just don't see somebody
coming forward and saying 'Wed like Rocky Flats in our
back yard.'"151
Page 88


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Einstein, Alfred, introduction, and commentary by George
Fielding Eliot. The H Bomb. New York: Didier
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Ford, Daniel. The Cult of the Atom: The Secret Papers of
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Freedman, Lawrence. The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy.
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Gaddis, John Lewis. The United States and the Origins of
the Cold War, 1941-1947. New York: Columbia
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1945-1960. New York: Vintage Books, 1956 and
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Goudie, Andrew. The Human Impact: Man's Role in
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the Cold War, 1945-1950. New York: Alfred A.
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Hewlett, Richard G., and Francis Duncan. Atomic Shield
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Hiskes, Anne L., and Richard P. Hiskes. Science,
Technology and Policy Decisions. Boulder:
Westview Press, 1986.
Johnson, Paul. Modern Times: The World from the Twenties
to the Eighties. New York: Harper & Row,
Publishers, 1983.
Kaufmann, William F., ed. Military Policy and National
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Koistinen, Paul A.C. The Military-Industrial Complex: A
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Kolko, Gabriel. The Roots of American Foreign Policy: An
Analysis of Power and Purpose. Boston: Beacon
Press,1969.
LaFeber, Walter, ed. America in the Cold War: Twenty
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Lamm, Richard D., and G. Michael McCarthy. The Angry
West: A Vulnerable Land and Its Future. Boston:
Houghton, Mifflin Co., 1982.
Leonard, Stephen J., and Thomas J. Noel. Denver: From
Mining Camp to Metropolis. Boulder: University
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Lilienthal, David E. Change, Hope, and the Bomb.
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Limerick, Patricia Nelson. The Legacy of Conguest: The
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Loeb, Paul. Nuclear Culture: Living and Working in the
World's Largest Atomic Complex. Philadelphia: New
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Malin, James C. The Grassland of North America.
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Metzger, H. Peter. The Atomic Establishment. New York:
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Mills, C. Wright. The Power Elite. New York: Oxford
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Mojtabai, A.G. Blessed Assurance: At Home with the Bomb
in Amarillo, Texas. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin
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Nash, Gerald D. The American West Transformed: The
Impact of the Second World War. Bloomington, IN:
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Orlans, Harold. Contracting for Atoms. Washington, DC:
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Rees, David. The Age of Containment: The Cold War 1945-
1965. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1967.
Ringholz, Raye C. Uranium Frenzy: Boom and Bust on the
Colorado Plateau. New York: W.W. Norton and Co.,
1989.
Rosenthal, Debra. At the Heart of the Bomb: The
Dangerous Allure of Weapons Work. Reading, MA:
Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., Inc., 1990.
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Age of Environmentalism. Garden City, NY: Anchor
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Whitehead, Don. The Dow Story: The History of the Dow
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(December 1982): 14.
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Rocky Flats Monitor
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Colorado Historical Society Geographic File
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Governor Edwin C.. Johnson Collection; U.S. Atomic
Energy Commission File; Civilian Defense File E-
7; Atomic Energy Commission File D-56
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Environmental Monitoring Council, interview by
author, 17 December, 1990.
Page 95


Full Text

PAGE 1

"ANNIHILATION BECKONS": THE ORIGINS OF THE ROCKY FLATS NUCLEAR WEAPONS PLANT by John J. Kennedy, Jr. B.A., Villanova University, 1977 A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado at Denver in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of History 1991

PAGE 2

This thesis for the Master of Arts degree by John J. Kennedy, Jr. has been approved for the Department of History by
PAGE 3

Kennedy, John Joseph, Jr. (M.A., History) "Annihilation Beckons:" The Origins of the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant Thesis directed by Professor Mark s. Foster In keeping with the secrecy that hallmarked the nation's early atomic weapons program, the decision to locate a weapons production facility at Rocky Flats was made without the knowledge of local or state civic leaders, and the public was certainly not involved in the process. Most local officials praised the news of the plarit, pointing out the economic advantages inherent in being home to a major defense installation. Average citizens, however, took a more wary outlook. In retrospect their concerns, chiefly the increased likelihood that Denver would become a primary target for Soviet bombs, seem naive, but they were curiously prescient in thinking that the threat posed by the plant would be through the air. Virtually no one had even an inkling of potential environmental hazards. Instead an atmosphere of innocent anticipation was tempered by the prospect of a Soviet assault and the more mundane matters of crowded schools, jammed highways, and over-extended municipal services.

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By analyzing the relevant literature and contemporary press, beneath the boosterism and bravado an undercurrent of unease can be detected in the response of typical Coloradans to the news of the plant. Unaware of what was actually being done at Rocky Flats, they were forced to accept the secrecy in the interests of national security. The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication. Signed

PAGE 5

CONTENTS .CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION 1 2. THE COLD WAR: MEETING THE PERCEIVED THREAT . 7 3. THE COLORADO CONNECTION . . 21 4. THE DECISION: PROJECT APPLE . 31 5. THE ANNOUNCEMENT . 41 6. "AGETTIN' A BIG STICK": THE REACTION .... 53 7. "THE ATOM PEOPLE AREN'T SAYING MUCH": CONSTRUCTION AND EARLY OPERATION ....... 65 8 EPILOGUE: ROCKY FLATS TODAY .83 BIBLIOGRAPHY . 89 ENDNOTES . . 9 6

PAGE 6

CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION The Rocky Flats nuclear weapons production plant rises from the rolling prairies to the east of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and then falls back away to prairie, causing hardly a ripple in the landscape. From the highway the complex is almost entirely hidden from view, nestled in arroyos and canyons that bisect the plateau. There is little to see except guard houses, security fences, warning signs, an almost lunar buffer zone, and road signs that read "Gusty Winds Likely." The best view of the plant comes from a distance, traveling south on Colorado State Highway 93, when, several miles out of Boulder, a quirk in the seemingly endless procession of rolling hills allows an observer a glimpse at the heart of the plant. In a parody of perspective, the closer one gets to Rocky Flats the less one is likely to see. Today Rocky Flats is one of several production plants in the Department of Energy's (DOE) Weapons Complex. The facility is responsible for the manufacture of components for nuclear weapons, utilizing materials such as plutonium, berrylium, uranium, and various

PAGE 7

alloys of stainless steel. An ancillary mission is the recovery of plutonium from dismantled weapons and process scrap generated from all phases of weapons production. The primary product of the plant is known in official releases as a 'plutonium trigger." In plant parlance it is termed a "pit." Plutonium trigger is really an innocuous misnomer that the DOE adopted in 1989 following a series of scandals at the plant and unflattering reports about workers' and nearby residents' safety at Rocky Flats.1 In effect, the trigger mechanism is actually a small atom bomb, similar in its workings to)the devices detonated at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These small fission bombs create the proper conditions needed to initiate a fusion reaction. Hydrogen bombs derive their power from the fusion of light nuclei, rather than by the fission of heavy nuclei as in a uranium bomb. This fusion occurs only in a furnace of heat rivaling that of the sun, and that heat can only be produced by the blast of a uranium bomb. When the uranium bomb, the trigger, is exploded, the resulting heat turns hydrogen atoms into helium, with an accompanying transformation of some of the mass into energy, producing the much more powerful hydrogen Page -2

PAGE 8

explosion. Plutonium is the favored isotope of uranium for creating the initial atomic explosion. In simple terms, the only way to detonate a hydrogen bomb is to use a uranium bomb as a trigger, or "primary."2 An extremely toxic substance, one pound of plutonium could theoretically cause nine billion deaths by lung cancer, plutonium has a radioactive half-life of 24,000 years and a full-life of 250,000 years.3 Construction of Rocky Flats began in 1951, and the plant became operational in 1952, the same year that the nation detonated its first hydrogen bomb. Dow Chemical Company operated the facility for 24 years, leaving in 1975 when Rockwell International assumed control. In 1989 EG&G Incorporated replaced Rockwell. The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) exercised administrative authority until 1975, when it was abolished and replaced by the Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA). DOE subsequently assumed control of atomic weapon production and development in 1977, and has regulated the plant since then. Plants in the weapons complex operate under a system known as "Go-Co," for government-owned, contractor-operated. This policy grew directly out of Page -3

PAGE 9

the Manhattan Project, the secret World War II program that produced the first atomic bombs. General Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project, maintained that contracting with a few of the largest and best qualified companies and universities was the quickest and most reliable method to design, develop, and produce atom bombs.4 This precedent was carried over into peacetime, as the AEC continued the practice of contracting out work to a few leading firms. In the period from 1951-1954, the AEC's era of enormous plant expansion and construction, Union Carbide, Bendix, General Electric, Sandia National Laboratory, DuPont, and the universities of California and Chicago received over one-half of all AEC contract expenditures. And the selection of these contractors was often dependent on the judgment of only one or two men: Arthur Compton channeled Manhattan Project work to the University of Chicago rather than see it given to Princeton or Columbia, while Groves was enamored with DuPont's ability to produce results quickly and directed several contracts its way.5 Dow Chemical Company was a relative latecomer to weapons work, having begun defense contracting in 1948.6 But the Truman Administration's January 1950 decision to Page -4

PAGE 10

proceed with the development of the hydrogen bomb opened the door for new firms to take part in the weapons program, and Dow Chemical was soon searching for a location to build a weapon component production facility. In keeping with the secrecy that hallmarked the nation's early atomic program, the decision to locate a weapons production facility at Rocky Flats was made without the knowledge of local or state civic leaders, and the public was certainly not involved in the process. Most local officials praised the news of the plant, eagerly pointing out the economic advantages inherent in being home to a major defense installation. Average citizens, however, took a more wary outlook. In retrospect their concerns, chiefly the increased likelihood that Denver would become a primary target for Soviet bombs, seem naive, but they were also curiously prescient in thinking that the threat posed by the plant would be through the air. Virtually no one had even an inkling of potential environmental hazards. Instead an atmosphere of innocent anticipation was tempered by the prospect of a Soviet assault and the more mundane Page -5

PAGE 11

matters of crowded schools, jammed highways, and overextended municipal services. Many historians, ranging from Henry Nash Smith to Patricia Nelson Limerick, have noted that the history of the West has been dominated by exploitation. Frederick Jackson Turner viewed the region as a convenient "safety valve" for crowded Eastern cities, while Limerick has described it as a traditional dumping ground, a place where problems could be disposed of and deferred to the future. Native Americans, Mormons, and hazardous waste all fall into this way of thinking. Richard Lamm and Michael McCarthy have also described the prevailing federal attitude toward the West as a supplier of resources and a repository for necessary but unwanted facilities and industries.7 The early history of Rocky Flats exhibits all of these traits. Page -6

PAGE 12

CHAPTER 2 THE COLD WAR: MEETING THE PERCEIVED THREAT Since the time of the Civil War the United States' sense of continental security had been Due to its geographical isolation and superior military potential no single nation could mobilize to effectively attack the United States, and with the balance of power abroad relatively stable, America could allow its potential to remain largely untapped. Secure behind two great oceans, American leaders felt certain that they could respond quickly enough to meet any challenge that threatened their interests.8 The confluence of geography, time, allies, the overseas balance of power, and industrial superiority produced a feeling of invulnerability. This sense of security eroded after World War II: the European balance of power was upset and a second power with massive military capability had emerged in the Soviet Union. The demise of the old order, replaced by a new bipolar situation, led to two primary ideas of postwar foreign policy, anticommunism and national security. Ironically, the growth of American power -it

PAGE 13

was the only nation at the time with atomic weapons and the only great power to emerge unscathed from the war -failed to lead to greater security. Instead, it only enlarged the range of perceived threats. American animosity for the Soviet Union dated from the earliest days of the Bolshevik regime, and the Soviets had an equally longstanding feeling of antagonism for the United States. Western leaders were appalled by Lenin's sudden withdrawal from World War I, which closed the second front against Germany, and by his denunciation of the war as a capitalist exercise in exploitation. Following the separate peace of BrestLitovsk, they were further outraged by the new regime's insistence that the Russian Revolution was only the first stage in a worldwide revolution that would unseat capitalism and replace it with socialism. The Soviets, on the other hand, were disillusioned with Western efforts to influence the course of their Civil War, seeing those efforts as blatant examples of capitalist intervention. The refusal of the United States to recognize the Soviet government until 1933 only added to the feeling of mistrust. Tensions eased somewhat as the global revolution failed to materialize and Stalin shifted his emphasis to Page -8

PAGE 14

building socialism in one country, and a period of relative good will developed in the late 1920s and 1930s. The Soviet Union, opting to normalize international relations, toned down its rhetoric and actively courted American firms to assist in its industrialization program. American leaders tended to overlook the worst excesses of Stalin's reign during this time, hoping that the Soviet Union would evolve a more liberal style of government, as well as develop into a more inviting and profitable market. The Soviet image grew more favorable in American eyes when Stalin adopted the idea of a popular front against Hitler and actively opposed the growing threat of Nazism. This easing of relations was strained by several events prior to the outbreak of World War II. Soviet advisers played a significant role in the crackdown against anarchists during the Spanish Civil War, and the series of show trials and purges in the Soviet Union from 1936 to 1938 horrified most Western observers. Worst of all was the 1939 nonaggression pact signed with Germany, which appeared to be an abandonment of the popular front and a repeat of the separate peace of 1918. The pact was quickly followed by the partition of Poland and the Soviet invasions of Finland and the Page -9

PAGE 15

Baltic states, further souring the Western view of the Soviet Union. But with Hitler's June 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union and declaration of war against the United States following Pearl Harbor, the United States and the Soviet Union found themselves joined as allies, part of Winston Churchill's "Grand Alliance." This was certainly a marriage of one predicated on wartime necessity that compelled the partners to set aside their fundamental ideological differences for the duration of the hostilities. Relations among the Allies were strained at best. Stalin wanted Great Britain and the United States to open a second, Western European front against Germany to relieve his country of some of the burden of fighting Hitler. President Roosevelt promised to do so in 1942, but Churchill, recalling the devastation of the previous war, opposed the plan, hoping that the Soviet Union would drain the strength of Germany before a crossChannel invasion had to be mounted.9 The result was an African campaign in the fall of 1942, and no European invasion was staged until 1944. Stalin thought this broken promise an attempt to weaken the Red Army and lessen his power at the subsequent peace negotiations. Page 10

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In support of this view, it should be noted that on DDay Allied forces faced less than 90 German divisions in Normandy, while at least 250 German divisions were still fighting on the Eastern front.10 Lend-lease, the program by which America made war materials available to its allies, also became a point of contention. Stalin believed shipments to his country were too slow and too few during the first years of the war, and he became deeply suspicious of American motives when President Truman stopped all aid three days after hostilities with Germany ended. The United States maintained that Lend-lease was only intended to assist in the war effort in the European theater, not to be used in the Pacific or as an element of reconstruction. But the rigorous enforcement of the cut-off (several ships on their way to the Soviet Union were recalled to port) caused the Soviets to view it as a provocative act.11 The end of the war only added to the growing estrangement between the two powers, and the hot war transformed itself into what is known as the Cold War. The fate of Poland, the nature of East European governments, and the issue of German reparations became divisive elements, as did negotiations for a proposed Page -11

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loan to help the Soviet Union repair its devastated infrastructure. Underlying all of these was the basic problem of conflicting ideologies. The United States drew on the Wilsonian assumptions of self-determination, free enterprise, democratic elections, and representative government, Roosevelt's Four Freedoms, and the ideals of the Atlantic Charter to reshape the postwar world, while the Soviet Union viewed events through the lens of class struggle, capitalist exploitation, and oppression. Ravaged twice within the past 30 years by invaders, the Soviets insisted on establishing a sphere of influencg, a buffer zone of dependent states designed to protect it from capitalist encirclement. This led United States policy makers to reassess their view that the Soviet Union would further normalize its international relations and become integrated into a multilateral trade system. Attitudes hardened rapidly, and by 1947 the notion of the Soviet Union as an insecure, cunning, and determined enemy set on a course of eventual world domination was entrenched in the United States.12 An anticommunist consensus developed, stipulating that the only way to meet such a threat was to maintain equal vigilance. Since budgetary constraints and popular Page -12

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opinion precluded the idea of maintaining armed forces equal in strength to the Soviet Union, the only viable option was reliance on the atomic bomb. Upon assuming control of the Atomic Energy Commission in 1947, David Lilienthal found one operable atom bomb in the nation's nuclear "stockpile," and the blasting mechanism for that device was new and had never been tested in an explosion. Production was moving forward at a rate of about two bombs per month, but a serious bottleneck, the fabrication of explosive detonators, stalled the program. This problem was finally resolved in early 1948, but assembly of weapons was still an individual, piecemeal process and there was no way of delivering those bombs that were so tediously produced to an enemy target. Bombers had to be specially modified to carry the cumbersome weapons. The cupboard was so bare that General Groves was forced to cancel a proposed third atomic test at Bikini Atoll in the summer of 1946 because bombs and fissionable material were in critically short supply.13 Despite the low number of bombs, most policy leaders thought America's monopoly of nuclear capability was a sufficient deterrent to preclude aggressive Soviet Page -13

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conduct. Colorado Senator Edwin c. Johnson noted that "God Almighty in His infinite wisdom [has] dropped the atomic bomb in our lap ... with vision and guts and plenty of atom bombs ... [we could] compel mankind to adopt the policy of lasting peace, or be burned to a crisp."14 An essential component of this monopoly was the belief that the Soviet Union was too backward industrially to duplicate the achievements of the Manhattan Project. Groves had attempted to monopolize all available sources of uranium during the war, but the effort ended in 1944 when it was found that the more plentiful element thorium was fissionable. More successful were his efforts to induce German scientists to bring their expertise, materials, and plans to the United States after Germany fell, rather than see them fall into Soviet hands. Groves was one of many who took a very relaxed view of Soviet atomic prospects, believing that it would be at least ten and possibly as long as 20 years before they would obtain atomic weapons. He viewed them as "technologically and even psychologically unequipped" to build the bomb. Manhattan Project scientist Vannevar Bush thought "they lack men of special skill, plant adapted to making special Page -14

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products, and possibly materials .... They lack the resourcefulness of free men, and regimentation is illadapted to unconventional efforts." Even President Truman subscribed to the theory of Soviet scientific inferiority, believing them incapable of sustaining the effort needed to produce an atomic bomb.15 But even if the Soviets were too technologically regressive to match American accomplishments, there was no denying their massive troop presence in Eastern Europe. Civilian and military leaders soon realized that the atomic bomb functioned less as a sanction than as a weapon. Bush noted soon after Hiroshima that "the gun on our hips'' prove useless as a diplomatic tool since "there is no powder in the gun, for it could not be drawn, and this is certainly so."16 The inability to apply nuclear weapons to conventional problems became increasingly apparent as successive nations fell behind the Iron Curtain. Following the March 1948 Czechoslovakian coup, Truman noted that ''you have to understand that this isn't a military weapon. It is used to wipe out women and children and unarmed people, and not for military uses."17 By 1948, while deterrence became the principal function of American nuclear Page 15

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capability, it was clear that atomic weapons alone could not protect vital national security interests. As late as 1949 the u.s. arsenal was comprised of only about 100 atomic bombs. u.s. war plans, centering on Western Europe as the place where Soviet aggression would be confronted, called for a nuclear prelude to cripple the Soviet Union's industrial capacity and demoralize its citizens. This would be followed by an effort similar to World War II, with ground forces landing on the continent and fighting their way east.18 Serious consideration was given to the need to boost American conventional might, since demobilization had become a chronic weakness in the face of the huge Soviet military presence in Eastern Europe. Any internal debate on American rearmament was silenced by the news of the Soviet's explosion of an atomic device in August 1949. New impetus was given to urgings for the development of the hydrogen bomb, the so-called "super". By early 1949 the Joint Chiefs of Staff requested that the AEC boost production of atomic weapons, noting that the currently established military requirements for scheduling bomb production should be increased substantially and extended."19 Joint Chiefs Chairman Omar Bradley maintained that "as long as Page -16

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America retains a tremendous advantage in A-bomb quantity, quality, and deliverability, the deterrent effect of the bomb will continue."20 The United States' response to the Soviet bomb was to raise the stakes, essentially the continuation of a long-standing military policy best articulated by Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest: ''Get thar fust with the most stuff." On January 31, 1950, President Truman announced his decision to proceed with development of the hydrogen bomb: It is part of my responsibility as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces to see to it that our country is able to defend itself against any possible aggressor. I have directed the Atomic Energy Commission to continue its work on all forms of atomic weapons, including the socalled hydrogen or superbomb. Like all other work in the field of atomic weapons, it will be carried forward on a basis consistent with the over-all objectives of our program for peace and security.21 Within one month the Joint Chiefs requested that the President begin "an all-out development of hydrogen bombs and the means for their production and delivery."22 The hydrogen bomb program was essentially an attempt to minimize the loss of the fission monopoly while preserving a qualitative advantage over the Soviet Union. Page -17

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Soon after the decision had been made to pursue the fusion bomb, Truman also set off on a course of massive conventional rearmament. A report submitted to the National Security Council in the spring of 1950, known as NSC-68, called for an extensive buildup of conventional forces and material, in effect tripling the military budget.23 But before a decision was reached on NSC-68 the Korean War erupted, and all debate on the issue was halted. Even with the hydrogen bomb program only in the earliest planning stages, the atomic bomb effort by 1950 was, according to one historian, the nation's largest industrial enterprise, employing five percent of the country's labor force and consuming ten percent of its electric power. With the prospect of obtaining hydrogen weapons in the near future, AEC chairman Gordon Dean noted that "what we are working toward here is a situation where we will have atomic weapons in almost as complete a variety as conventional ones, and a situation where we can use them in the same way. This would include artillery shells, guided missiles, torpedos, rockets and bombs for ground support amongst others and it would include big ones for big situations." Dean was Page -18

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not concerned about the u.s. having enough bombs, "just about how to get more."24 By early 1951, official u.s. estimates put the Soviet Red Army strength at over three million men in 175 divisions, while American forces numbered 1.2 million in 18 divisions. No word was given as to Soviet nuclear potential, but the science writer for the New York Times placed their stockpile at from 12 to 15 "antiquated models," calling them jalopies in comparison to the latest American models. American military leaders had already decided to adopt a policy of first use of atomic weapons, for as Undersecretary of Defense Robert Lovett said, "we're not going to do a square dance with those 175 divisions."25 Dean maintained that the u.s. held a qualitative and quantitative lead in the atomic field over the Soviets, claiming that "if their plan is to curtail the atomic weapons program of this country, they have been stupid; for it is they and only they who have required us to be strong."26 Later he would retreat from his claims of knowledge of Soviet capability, noting that "anything you say about Russia's atomic energy supply and progress in the field of nuclear physics is purely conjecture. We do know that they have some good men in Page -19

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the nuclear physics field and good supplies of uranium ore in some of their satellite countries."27 Speculation by reporters put the U.S. stockpile at about 700 bombs in early 1951. To ensure prompt development of the hydrogen weapon, Truman asked Congress for an additional $51.3 million for the AEC. "The supplemental appropriation for the Atomic Energy Commission is for the construction of certain urgent production and research facilities," said the White House announcement.28 Among those "urgent production and research facilities" was Rocky Flats. Speaking on a television program dealing with production of the hydrogen bomb, Albert Einstein, the man whose letter to President Roosevelt had started the nation on the course of developing the atom bomb, said "radioactive poisoning of the atmosphere and hence annihilation of any life on earth has been brought within the range of technical possibilities. General annihilation beckons."29 Page 20

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CHAPTER 3 THE COLORADO CONNECTION The Rocky Flats plant was born in March 1951, the offspring of Cold War fears for national security and the burgeoning atomic weapons program. In an era when the Korean War raged, Klaus Fuchs gave atomic secrets to enemy governments, the Rosenbergs stood trial for espionage, Senator Joe McCarthy alleged that communists were functioning in the highest councils of American government, and the daily newspapers detailed how profession after profession was exposed before the House Un-American Activities Committee for harboring communists, Colorado residents readily accepted the news of a secret atomic plant located within 20 miles of their capitol and most populous city. These were not yet the "nervous neighbors"30 who would later plague the Atomic Energy Commission (and its successor, the Department of Energy) with demands for environmental monitoring, public disclosure of hazards, and increased safety measures. Rather, most Coloradans in 1951 welcomed defense installations, atomic or otherwise, as a source of jobs, a boost to the local economy, and as part of their contribution to national security.

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Proud of having a major defense installation located in their own backyard, determined to do their part to stop communism, Coloradans had great faith and trust that their government would never harm them. Still, many residents expressed displeasure with the prospect of an atomic facility nearby and were confused by the lack of information made available to them. Beneath the boosterism and bravado expressed by local leaders and the press, an undercurrent of unease can be detected in the response of average citizens. Citizens' fears in 1951 were mainly The Soviet Union, aggressive, untrustworthy, and expansionist, possessed atomic weapons. China had been taken by communists, and the invasion of South Korea appeared to be the beginning of a massive movement toward communist world domination. These external threats, buttressed by a renewed climate of anticommunism at home, eroded the postwar mood of victory and confidence into a general feeling of fear and frustration. Existing alongside this pessimistic undercurrent was an abiding faith in technology. The scientific productivity that had developed the atomic bomb led to an image of scientists as the new high priests of the Page -22

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nuclear age, men engaged in a noble cause worthy of the highest national priority. In keeping with historian Paul Johnson's thesis that the modern world was searching for a substitute for God,31 the postwar scientist represented the height of Enlightenment values, and some of this luster wore off on those involved in weapons research. He would dispel superstition through method and challenge entrenched orthodoxies with his devotion to logic and truth.32 Only years later would this image change, and in this deconstruction he would be viewed as a warmonger, a harbinger of death, and a reckless polluter of the environment. But in 1951 the blossoming partnership among science, industry, and government promised limitless accomplishments, everything from supersonic atomic trains and airplanes to electricity too cheap to meter. As David Lilienthal, first chairman of the AEC, put it: The atom has had us bewildered. It was so gigantic, so terrible, so beyond the power of imagination to embrace that it seemed to be the ultimate fact. It would either destroy us or bring about the millennium. It was the final secret of Nature, greater by far than man himself .... Our obsession with the Atom led us to assign to it aseparate and unique status in the world. So greatly did it seem to transcend the ordinary affairs of men that we shut it out Page -23

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of those affairs altogether; or rather tried to create a separate world, the world of the Atom.33 The "almost limitless beneficial applications of atomic energy''34 were an accepted fact 40 years ago. Medicine, transportation, electrical power needs, and national security were only some of the fields that stood to gain from advances in nuclear science. By 1951 Colorado had a longstanding connection to the atom. One perhaps apocryphal story maintained that Pierre and Marie Curie's 1898 experiments that led to the discovery of x-rays were conducted with uranium ore obtained from the Kirk Mine near Central City. As early as 1903 a Denver physician, Dr. George Stover, was using radium as a treatment for certain diseases: powdered uranium was placed in platinum tubes and inserted into a tumor for 24-48 hours. A large uranium mill was operated within the city limits of Denver from 1914 to 1917, on land now owned by the Robinson Brick and Tile Company. In 1948 Colorado was chosen as one of six national centers for training recipients of atomic energy fellowships in biology and medicine. The program was jointly administered by the University of Colorado Medical School, the University of Colorado at Boulder, and Denver University.35 Page -24

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But the state was primarily interested in the national security applications of atomic energy. By 1948, over 1,700 new firms had been created in western Colorado to meet the demand for uranium ore, and an atomic energy research plant in Grand Junction was being hailed as the forerunner of a new uranium-byproducts industry.36 Denver city officials and business leaders even bid to have the Santa Fe Operations Office of the AEC transferred from Los Alamos to Denver.37 Perhaps the most glaring example of residents' readiness to accept all things atomic came in a special election in Glenwood Springs. The issue of "untying the shackled hands of American fighting men in Korea" was overwhelmingly approved, with 63 percent of the town's registered voters approving a resolution to declare the conflict an all-out emergency, deploy atomic weapons, and accept Nationalist Chinese aid.38 This example of citizens' willingness to deploy atomic weapons went together with a full knowledge of their destructive power. Denver newspaper readers were all too aware of the hazards: a recent series detailed the damage that would be caused by a single bomb detonated over Union Station. It was estimated that practically all buildings within a one-mile radius would Page -25

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be completely destroyed, a circle encompassing City Hall, Bears Stadium, and St. Luke's Hospital. The blast would immediately kill 40,000 persons, and a total of 120,000 would be killed or injured. No account of longterm radiation problems was included, but the article concluded that Denver, a city of about 412,000 persons with an average population density of 6,200 per square mile and numerous defense and government installations, presented an enemy with an attractive atomic target.39 Fears of nuclear attack were widespread at this time. A national news magazine trumpeted Denver as a possible wartime national capitol, citing the need to decentralize essential operations and the city's admirable geographic location. In addition, it was noted that the Air Force was moving its Air Defense Command headquarters to the area, and manufacturers of precision tools, electronic equipment, and medical chemicals were attracted by the favorable climate, low living costs, contented and productive labor supply, cheap land, and plentiful resources. Thomas Dines, president of Denver's U.S. National Bank, told the magazine "We feel we fit very effectively into the current mobilization pattern."40 Page -26

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Coloradans were preparing to "fit into the current mobilization pattern." Governor Dan Thornton had recently appointed a 15-member state civil defense advisory board. The program's director, General Henry L. Larson, urged residents to begin work on building bomb shelters, while a survey of Denver's basements was undertaken to uncover likely public shelter sites. Banker George c. Berger, who headed the city's civil defense program, maintained "If an atom bomb hit Denver, most citizens could survive -if they knew the bomb's true dangers, then knew how to escape or minimize those dangers." But one critic, University of Colorado physics professor Walter Orr Roberts, called civil defense measures "fantastically inadequate," and warned that the city needed to implement a drastic dispersal program if it hoped to limit casualties.41 Roberts' warning carried more weight than that generally received by academics. In addition to his teaching duties, he served as director of the u.s. Navy's High Altitude Observatory in Boulder, and was a founding member and president of the Rocky Mountain Committee on Nuclear Energy, a volunteer organization that offered assistance with radiological aspects of civil defense.42 If a man of Roberts' stature and Page -27

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learning was concerned, should not the typical citizen also worry? He did, but only to a certain extent. While an atomic attack was feared, the hazards now known to be a part of the nuclear weapon production and testing programs were largely unknown in 1951. In testimony before a Congressional committee in 1945 the director of the Manhattan Project, General Leslie R. Groves, indicated that "radiation death is a very pleasant way to die."43 Persons living near Indian Springs, Nevada, just outside of the government's atomic bomb test range, saw the danger of the weapons program at the time not in terms of long range health risks, but as an immediate inconvenience. Following one test blast, they claimed $15,000 in damages, mostly for broken glass from windows blown out by the explosion. An AEC official said "We accept our responsibility for any damage which may result directly from our test operations and expect to reimburse property owners. It is particularly noteworthy that in approximately one-tenth of the cases, property owners waived all claims in the interest of national defense."44 The pathological and genetic dangers of ionizing radiation were well known within the medical community Page -28

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by the 1940s, but these dangers were viewed as a necessary evil, a calculated risk when measured against the danger inherent in not proceeding with the atomic weapons program.45 The notion that the United States must maintain its nuclear superiority precluded the establishment of adequate safeguards in the testing program,46 and this same manner of thinking was apparent in all other phases of the weapons program. It was not until 1955 that the mayor of Denver asked the AEC to clarify whether radioactive dust from Nevada test blasts posed a danger to Denver residents. Two Uniyersity of Colorado scientists who claimed that the tests were cause for concern from a public health standpoint were accused by the governor of employing a "fright strategy to create public sentiment against the necessary testing of atom bombs." Dr. Ray Lanier of the radiology department and Dr. Theodore Puck, chairman of the biophysics department, "ought to be arrested" wrote then-Governor Johnson, for their "premeditated effort to frighten the people and spread unnecessary hysteria." Johnson would brag to AEC chairman Lewis L. Strauss of his role in quieting the recalcitrant professors, while Strauss would assure him that "I am informed by our staff that the level of radioactive fallout, even in Page -29

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counties near the test site, has been far below hazard levels."47 Clearly, as late as 1955, doubting the safety of the atomic program was a dangerous undertaking. Unquestioning acceptance was the expected response to the dictates of the atomic decision makers, and except for occasional instances of doubt and second thoughts, throughout the early 1950s that was what they received. Page 30

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CHAPTER 4 THE DECISION: PROJECT APPLE Once the decision had been reached to initiate a program to develop and produce the hydrogen bomb, it became apparent that existing Atomic Energy Commission facilities were incapable of handling the task. The early Manhattan Project plants would continue to shoulder a major burden, but new facilities were needed to lighten the load. The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima was made from uranium processed at the Oak Ridge, Tennessee, plant operated by Union Carbide Nuclear Company; the weapon that destroyed Nagasaki was powered by plutonium from DuPont's Hanford complex near Richland, Washington. Both of these bombs, and the entire early arsenal, were assembled by hand at Los Alamos. Monsanto Chemical Company produced some of the components for early weapons during the war in a converted greenhouse in Dayton, Ohio. This plant would later relocate to nearby Miamisburg in 1948 and become known as the Mound Plant. Mason and Hanger began operating a weapons assembly plant at Burlington, Iowa, in 1947; some assembly work

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was also done at Clarksville, Tennessee, and at Median Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas, until the Burlington plant became operational. By 1956 Mason and Hanger took over the Pantex facility in Amarillo, Texas, from Procter and Gamble. Today Pantex is the final assembly point for all u.s. nuclear weapons.48 Those facilities were able to handle the early piecemeal production of uranium bombs, but the hydrogen bomb effort required a major expansion. From August 1950 until December 1952 the AEC granted nine major contracts for various components of the weapons complex.49 Among these was a $45 million contract awarded to Dow Chemical Company for a production facility at Rocky Flats. The same spirit of secrecy which surrounded the Manhattan Project continued with the selection of the new plants. Just as the first bomb had been dropped before most Americans even knew that there was an atomic weapons program, plants like Rocky Flats were decided upon and announced before local residents had an inkling they were being considered. Property was purchased by "secret operatives" who refused to disclose the nature of their plans, and local decision makers were kept completely unaware of matters. Page -32

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Los Alamos had handled both the research and production requirements for the AEC's nuclear program until the wave of expansion in the early 1950s. Plants added to the complex were intended to relieve Los Alamos of its production duties, allowing the facility to concentrate on research. As a producer of components for weapons, Rocky Flats would relieve some of that burden. 5 By late 1950 the AEC had selected Dow Chemical Company of Midland, Michigan, as its operator for the proposed production facility. Dow had begun defense contracting in 1948, and at the time of its selection to operate the new facility was also involved, in a joint venture with Detroit Edison, in a study for the AEC on the feasibility of plutonium power plants.51 Dow joined the AEC's Santa Fe Operations Office in setting up the guidelines for selecting the location of the new plant in January 1951, an undertaking that was known as Project Apple.52 The criteria for selection of the site focused on four main items: a dry climate, an adequate supporting population, attractive environs, and accessibility to Los Alamos, Chicago, and St. Louis. Specifically, the site was to have a Western location, falling somewhere Page -33

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west of the Mississippi River, north of the Texas panhandle, south of Colorado's northern border, and east of Utah. This general area included Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Colorado, and the panhandle region of Texas. A dry, moderate climate was required to facilitate the use of evaporative cooling, and it was deemed necessary to place the facility no less than five miles nor more than 25 miles from a city with a population of at least 25,000. The living conditions, community facilities, and recreational opportunities of the chosen area would have to be attractive enough to draw and retain the skilled personnel who would be employed at the plant.53 Requirements for the plant itself stipulated that land presently owned or controlled by the government was preferable, or that an isolated site be chosen so that a minimum number of people would be displaced. A square, two miles on each side, was for the plant. The central square mile of the area had to be reasonably level and capable of supporting large structures. Air, rail, and highway transportation nearby were required, and the facility would have only moderate requirements for water, power, sewage, and drainage. Page -34

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The survey located 21 cities within the region that satisfied the population requirement, and these cities were then judged according to climate, attraction to workers, and accessibility. Because all important conditions were relatively constant for any one locality, the survey determined the locations within the general area that best satisfied the criteria, and then selected sites in the most favorable locality. Nine cities were selected, and field investigations were conducted for each: Colorado Springs, Colorado Denver, Colorado Pueblo, Colorado Topeka, Kansas Springfield, Missouri Lincoln, Nebraska Omaha, Nebraska Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Amarillo, Texas Within these cities over 35 sites were investigated. Because of their generally dry atmospheric conditions, only the three Colorado cities satisfied the climate requirements, and the search was narrowed to Denver, Pueblo, and Colorado Springs. Pueblo was considered unsuitable because it lacked attractive environs, was not well-served by air transportation, and was home to a vital industrial operation, Colorado Fuel and Iron. Colorado Springs suffered from the disadvantage of being served by a single, relatively small electrical utility. So Denver, which "surpassed the other 20 localities in Page -35

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the degree to which it satisfied the criteria," became the locality from which a site would be chosen.54 The survey mentioned another factor that weighed in Denver's favor, its work force. Although the report recognized that the local labor market was tight, as it was in all other cities under consideratiori, Denver had been Los Alamos' '1most fruitful source of machinists, sub-professional and clerical personnel." The report also noted that the Denver labor pool was still used predominantly as a source of workers for employment outside of the state, rather than locally.55 "Dozens of good sites in the Denver area" were available, and the field survey narrowed the possibilities to seven sites nearest the city that were served with adequate water, power, railroads, and highways. Site 1 was located immediately north of the 20,000-acre Rocky Mountain Arsenal in Adams County. The only problems with this location were that it might tend to become dusty during dry weather and it could prompt adverse public reaction because .of its proximity to the city and another "secret" federal installation. Site 2 was on farm land northeast of Brighton: it was seen as having no outstanding advantages and no dependable source of water. Site 3 was located at Gunbarrel Hill, Page -36

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northeast of Boulder. The most remote site from Denver, it was not seriously considered.56 The fourth site was located on a rocky plateau 20 highway miles northwest of Denver. The site had many advantages, particularly the general absence of residents. The only drawback was its distance, 27 miles by road, from Stapleton Airfield, somewhat more than the specifications called for. Site 5 was the closest to Denver's city limits, just west of the city and south of Green Mountain. Far from a main railroad line, the main disadvantage of Site 5 was that it was entirely visible and easily observed from nearby State Highway 74. Site 6, two miles south of Marston Lake in Jefferson County, was eliminated because the prevailing winds from the site blew toward Denver, a condition that "might constitute an unlikely hazard." Site 7, two miles east of Site 6, was in the Woolhurst section of Douglas County. It was also dropped from consideration because of the direction of the prevailing winds.57 Weighing the relative advantages and disadvantages of the seven proposed sites, the survey settled on Site 4 as "best satisfying the Site Selection Criteria." Twelve reasons were given for the selection of Rocky Flats: Page -37

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a) Its terrain provides a desirable combination of a mesa and ravines. b) Its deep beds of gravel provide good foundation conditions. c) The gravel surface, its altitude above the sandy farm land to the east, and the closeness of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains provide maximum protection from wide-spread or local dust storms which disrupt the important ventilation system. d) Water from a reservoir of the City of Denver is reasonably accessible. e) It enjoys maximum reliability of electrical power from adjacent transmission lines with multiple generating sources. f) It is within reasonable driving distance and time of Denver, Boulder and Golden, over good highways with very little commuting traffic. g) It is about two miles from the Denver, Rio Grande and Western Railroad's Moffat Tunnel mainline. It would be feasible to extend a sidetrack to the site if this should be desirable. h) The property is the least valuable of the seven Denver sites considered and should be obtainable for the least cost. i) The site has the least occupancy of the seven Denver sites; only one homestead was apparent. j) It is remote from any industrial installation or conceivable military target. k) It is easily adaptable to any desired degree of plant security control. 1) It is ideal from the viewpoint of public relations: minimum displacement of homes, land used only for minor grazing, and well removed from any residential area.58 Page -38

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Site 1, adjacent to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, was also considered a superior location, and was offered as an alternative to Rocky Flats.59 The Engineering and Survey Report contained at least one fateful error. It noted that ''it is desirable that the site be located to the leeward of any densely populated area," and that the prevailing winds in the Denver area were from the south. This favored Sites 1 through 4 which were north of Denver, and served to eliminate Sites 6 and 7. Apparently these meteorological observations were conducted at Stapleton Airfield, and they were correct as far as they went. But 20 miles northwest of Stapleton at Rocky Flats, both at the initial site chosen by the survey and at the final site where the plant was eventually built [see below], the same meteorological conditions did not exist. At Rocky Flats the prevailing winds are from the west and northwest, often blowing directly at downtown Denver.60 A condition which caused two sites to be eliminated escaped the notice of investigators, an oversight that would have dire consequences for the plant in later years. Ironically, the site selection group never visited the actual plant site, instead investigating an Page -39

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area further north straddling the Boulder-Jefferson County border. The AEC was formally notified of the recommendation of Rocky Flats at a series of secret meetings held March 14 and 15 in Cleveland and Denver.61 Dow's representative at the meetings, F.H. "Heinie" Langell, remembered It was rather funny, the extremes to which we went to keep our actions secret. But that was considered necessary at the time. Our group included representatives of the AEC, Dow Chemical, and the Austin Company, which had been chosen to do the primary architectural engineering and construction. We held our meeting in the old Olin Hotel in Denver. The hotel was in the middle of town near the capitol and was in fact an old ladies' home. But no one seemed to think it unusual for us to be meeting there.62 And the extremes of secrecy paid off. "The project was all set before anyone knew anything about it except the government and related officials directly involved. All the while it was a perfectly-kept secret .... No Boulder or Colorado officials knew anything about it," observed a Boulder newspaper.63 Page -40

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CHAPTER 5 THE ANNOUNCEMENT "If it were done when tis done, Then 'twere well It were done quickly." Shakespeare, Macbeth March 23, 1951, was Good Friday. Denver weather was sunny and mild, with a high near 60 degrees and a nighttime low of 25. Gale force winds reaching 65 miles per hour overnight had caused some problems, forcing Lowry Air Base to close for several hours, uprooting trees, and tearing off several roofs. Governor Thornton praised the 38th General Assembly for "commendable legislation," but he warned that the pressing issues of highway development and school finance would have to be addressed in the next session. Local news was overshadowed by reports of the latest North Korean offensive, Alger Hiss was scheduled to begin a five-year term for perjury, and a Denver communist, 37-year old Mrs. Patricia Blau, was found in contempt of court for trying to influence a murder trial. The Colorado State Senate had recently authorized the use of secret investigations of anyone advocating the overthrow of the

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government, a move aimed specifically at professed communists.64 Less pressing news also found its way into the papers. Rocky Mountain News readers were notified that a new comic strip, "Peanuts," would debut on Monday, while the film "Cry Danger" starring Rhonda Fleming and Dick Powell opened that evening at the RKO-Orpheum theater. Malcolm Boyd, an actor and Denver native, warned residents that their brief exposure to television, a one-day trial held earlier in the week, may have been fortunate. "It turns home life and habits upside down. It makes discipline of children very difficult," he said. Colorado had just been allocated VHF channels 2, 4, 6, and 7, and UHF channels 20 and 26. Residents were anxious to have the new technology available on a permanent basis. Meanwhile, the Denver City Council proposed boosting Mayor Quigg Newton's salary to $14,000 per year; the current level of $6,000 was thought insufficient to attract quality candidates to the office.65 None of this prepared local residents for the day's biggest story. In a series of carefully orchestrated news conferences held simultaneously in Denver, Los Alamos, and Washington, D.C., the Atomic Page 42

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Energy Commission announced plans to construct a $45 million atomic energy plant eight miles south of Boulder and 16 miles northwest of Denver. "News of the plant broke like a thunderbolt over the community," wrote one reporter; another saw it as "a full-fledged atomic bomb of news hit Boulder Friday .... It came out of a clear blue sky."66 And it did appear to come out of a clear blue sky. There had been virtually no hint that the AEC was considering the Denver area for a production facility. Several Rocky Flats area residents had expressed concern about government surveyors who "stalked about the rocky wasteland squinting through instruments peculiar to their trade." And Harry Berner of Arvada noted "They were always out there. And they never said anything. No matter how many questions you asked them." Aside from that no one had an inkling of the AEC's intentions. Governor Thornton said the news came as "a complete surprise," as did most state and Denver, Boulder, and Jefferson County officials.67 In a press conference at Denver's Mayflower Hotel, AEC officials were cryptic about their plans. Gordon Dean said that the location was "sufficiently isolated for our purposes and yet within reasonable Page -43

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commuting distance from Boulder, Denver, and Arvada. The general climate and living conditions are conducive to the establishment and maintenance of a stable working force." He indicated no housing would be built at the site for workers, a change from the procedures followed at Hanford, Oak Ridge, and Los Alamos. Dick Eliot, an AEC public information official, said it would be "permanent type" construction despite the lack of worker housing, but that "we can't talk further about it or we would be giving out information for the setting up of a radar target." He would only reply "No comment" to questions of whether the new facility would be connected to production of the hydrogen bomb.68 Officials invoked "national security" and "security provisions of the Atomic Energy Act" to avoid detailing the precise nature of the plant, but they did state that atomic bombs would not be made at Rocky Flats. They implied that the factory complex would produce some part of the weapons.69 Since the proposed size of the facility was much smaller than that of other AEC installations, and because it would require only moderate water and electrical supplies, speculation centered on the idea that a new process for producing bomb materials had been developed, or that at least an Page -44

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improvement over old methods had been achieved. Five main areas were cited as possibilities: 1) an efficient method for plutonium production without using water as a coolant had been devised; 2) a new process for separating uranium-235 would be introduced at the plant; 3) Rocky Flats would be the first of several new small plants for producing bomb materials; 4) the plant would work with crude atomic materials to be used as "radioactive poisons" like dusts or sprays; or 5) it would serve as an assembly plant for bombs, admittedly an unlikely prospect due to the proposed size.70 But AEC officials refused to be drawn into a discussion of the plant's mission, saying only that it would be involved in "major but secret type of production."71 They did, however, acknowledge that they had been studying the area for some time. Initial planning had begun five months earlier, and the first AEC site inspection party had arrived in February. They had "searched the entire Midwest and Southwest" for an appropriate location said an official. Two "secret" operatives of the Army Corps of Engineers' Missouri River Division began acquiring the four square mile tract bisected by the Boulder-Jefferson County line. Ease of acquisition was a major point in the decision, Page -45

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according to Dean. AEC project manager David w. Persons noted that only six owners currently held title to the site, and there was but one dwelling on the land, so the tract could be purchased for "a nominal price." One newspaper noted that "the owners have no alternative but to sell, and they will confer with government representatives on the price."72 The AEC also announced that the Dow Chemical Company would operate the plant. Over the last dozen years, Dow had experienced huge internal growth, expanding by a factor of eleven, all without benefit of mergers or acquisitions. Estimated sales for the fiscal year ending May 31, 1952, were $420 million, with another $100 million in new plant projected into 1953. The company allocated 30 top technicians to assist in the design and construction of Rocky Flats. At the same time as they accepted the Rocky Flats contract, Dow joined with the Detroit Edison Company in one of the AEC's industrial-study contracts, assessing the feasibility of a dual purpose nuclear reactor to produce fissionable materials for both weapons and the power industry. Chairman Earl Bennett summarized Dow's expansion philosophy: "We build in boom times to keep up Page -46

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with demand; we build in slump times for the future; so we never stop building."73 General contractor for construction work at Rocky Flats was the Austin Company, a Cleveland-based firm that handled much of Dow's construction. Austin and Dow worked so closely that Austin built a permanent office on the site of Dow's main complex in Midland, Michigan.74 Founded 70 years previously by an English carpenter, Samuel Austin, the company had built defense plants during both World Wars and had constructed several atomic plants since 1948. Notable projects it had been involved in included the Argonne National Laboratory in DuPage, Illinois; the permanent laboratories at Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and a $60 million auto manufacturing facility in the Soviet Union completed in 1931. The firm claimed $1.3 billion in engineering and construction contracts on five continents throughout its history.75 Dow's F.H. Langell was named plant manager for Rocky Flats, and W.R. Engstrom of Austin was selected as project manager for construction. David Persons of the AEC was the overall project Persons had recently worked as chief of design for the Corps of Engineers on the John Martin Dam in the Arkansas Valley Page 47

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and on Camp Carson. Dr. L.A. Matheson was named as Dow's technical director of the plant.76 Other reasons for the selection of Rocky Flats besides relative isolation and ease of acquisition were cited by the AEC. Climate influenced the decision, as the area's low humidity would facilitate the evaporative cooling system on which the plant would rely. A perceived invulnerability to enemy attack, the proximity of adequate living facilities, nearby colleges, and other unspecified operational requirements were also factors noted by officials.77 Land in the area was considered too rocky for cultivation and was used primarily for grazing. Several small rock and clay quarries operated in the area, as did a coal mine just to the south of the tract. A Jefferson County Commissioner said "that land never has been zoned. We always thought it was worthless."78 Denver boosters were quick to point out that the new plant would complete a circle of federal installations around the city: Camp George to the west; Fort Logan Veterans Administration Hospital to the southwest; Lowry Field, Buckley Field, and Fitzsimons Army Hospital to the east; and the Rocky Mountain Arsenal to the northeast. Page -48

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One problem they hoped to avoid with this new installation was the exclusive use of outside contractors. Several months earlier all bids for additions to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal had been awarded to out-of-state contractors, and government leaders and local businessmen wanted Colorado companies to get a share of the new project. Governor Thornton claimed "this will certainly have a large effect on our economy. It will provide much employment for residents of the state.''79 But Colorado's two u.s. Senators, in a joint telegram, cautioned For security and possibly other reasons, there will undoubtedly be some contracts let on other than competitive basis, and we have urged the Atomic Energy Commission to give special consideration to the suitability of Colorado contractors for entering into contracts of this kind. Atomic Energy Commission representatives assured us they will give close attention to the matter. We urge that Colorado contractors keep themselves closely advised on the developments, keep their qualifications before the appropriate persons and advise us as to any threat of discrimination.80 Earlier, Johnson and Millikin had been joined by u.s. Rep. William s. Hill in writing to the AEC chairman that it was "especially urged that special care should be taken not to exclude Colorado contractors and subcontractors from this area of business.''81 Page -49

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The AEC said that it planned to hire about 2,000 workers during the peak construction period, and that the plant would have a permanent work force of about 1,000. Engstrom warned that after the plant was in operation most permanent employees "would come from outside." Langel! agreed, noting that very few jobs would be available to Colorado residents. Citing complicated and difficult construction techniques, Engstrom said bidding information would be released to interested firms at an unspecified later date.82 Even if Colorado firms and workers would not receive the lion's share of the contracts, Rocky Flats loomed as a major player in the state economy. With the initial construction slated for $45 million, the plant would become one of the largest concerns in the Rocky Mountain region. Denver's Gates Rubber Company, the city's largest industrial enterprise, reported assets of $44 million, while Pueblo's Colorado Fuel and Iron had assets of over $100 million, with plant and equipment estimated to be worth $62 million.83 Clearly, even a small portion of the Rocky Flats' contracts would have a significant impact on the local economy. Page 50

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To ease any fears residents might entertain about the safety of the new atomic plant, Senators Johnson and Millikin cabled their assurances: We have made careful inquiry as to the dangers in the operation. We are assured by those who should be competent to judge that, based on the study of several years experience with identical operations, the hazard to employees is exceptionally low and that the hazard to communities is practically nonexistent. We have been assured that the location selected is the best in the United States for the purpose and that because of its distance from potential enemies the hazards from enemy action are reduced to the minimum.04 Although they realized that no "identical operations" existed, AEC officials concurred with the optimistic tone of the cable. Their press release indicated that "protective measures used in the atomic energy program have been so effective that the commission's safety record is better than in industry generally."05 Within a week of the Rocky Flats announcement the AEC confirmed that it was considering the possibility of locating a second atom plant near Boulder, a laboratory for basic physics research on the site of the Bureau of Standards. Speculation about the low-temperature research laboratory centered on its connections to the hydrogen bomb.06 Page -51

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And to top off a week of big news in the Denver area, the Boston Braves of major league baseball's National League announced plans to play two exhibition games the following weekend against the Denver Bears, the first time a major league club would play as a team in Denver.87 Page -52

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CHAPTER 6 "AGETTIN' A BIG STICK:" THE REACTION "They feel that they live in a time of big decisions; they know that they are not making any." C.Wright Mills, The Power Elite Immediate citizen reaction to the proposed atomic plant was a mixture of elation and apprehension. Some looked at the installation as a source of jobs, an addition to the state's tax base, and as part of Colorado's contribution to the national defense effort. Others viewed the facility as a menace, a target for enemy bombs which increased the area's likelihood of being incinerated should an atomic war break out. A few questioned the implications the plant itself would have on the region. Denver clerk Marie Ward was among the enthusiasts: "I think it's wonderful. Anything that can be done for the defense effort should be done. These people who get frightened over such things give me a pain in the neck." Bob Bissell, a,salesman, also took an optimistic outlook. "I worked in Albuquerque," he said. "The location of Sandia Air Base there didn't make much

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of a difference, except that there was a lot more money in circulation. I'm in favor of it because Denver needs more payrolls."88 Jim Henderson, an 83-year old rancher who once ran cattle in the Rocky Flats area, showed no remorse at the loss of his old rangelands: "Well, sir, I'm tickled, this is wonderful. Mr. Roosevelt used to talk about the 'big stick' and now we're agettin' a big stick right up on the flats. I'm all for it, there's no use of having those boys dying with rifles in their hands when we got this bomb." And shoe repairman George Orrino believed that "a town as dull as this one could stand a few split atoms. I'm all for the new plant."89 Reaction of state, city, and county officials was even more enthusiastic. Governor Thornton was pleased with the economic prospects promised by the plant, but "as to whether it makes us a more desirable target for an attack, I couldn't say-I'm not a military man. I'll be happy to move the capitol to Gunnison if that proves to be the case."90 Boulder Mayor J. Perry Bartlett called the announcement "a wonderful thing for Boulder. It may bring some problems but they are far outweighed by the advantages. I feel no alarm over any potential hazard from the location of the plant near Boulder." Page -54

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City Manager Bert Johnson said "I hope we are worthy of the challenge."91 Contributing to the nation's security was a theme mentioned by several civic leaders. "The leaders of our national defense have acknowledged the importance of having a strong university nearby," said Robert L. Stearns, president of the University of Colorado. Frank Henderson, president of the Boulder Chamber of Commerce, maintained "this development represents another important element of progress for Boulder. It is too bad that the operation, for the present at least, has to be related to war and destruction, and yet we should welcome the opportunity to contribute to the nation's defense program." The Boulder Chamber's secretary-manager, Francis w. Reisch, agreed with this assessment, adding "I am not a bit concerned over what effect it might have towards making this area a target .. The defense of our way of life is our problem just as much as that of any other community."92 Denver newspapers were also lavish in their praise of the contribution the defense plant would make to the area. The Post editorialized that the location of the $45-million atomic plant in the Denver area will be a source of satisfaction Page -55

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to all residents who have an abiding faith in Colorado's destiny and future greatness. Thestatement made in Washington that one reason for the location is the close proximity of the site to the Colorado School of Mines and the universities of Denver and Colorado is particularly significant. It seems to indicate that the new project will offer new opportunities to scientific students of those schools. The slight possibility that the location of the A-plant here might increase the likelihood that Denver would be bombed in the event of an all-out war is a calculated risk. With or without an A-plant, a city the size of Denver which is an important transportation center would be a tempting target. We cannot shape our lives on the idea that the only safe place in this strife-ridden world is a cave in the mountains. The will mean a great deal to Denver and all Colorado. Joe M. Brody, Denver's most enthusiastic prophet, will interpret this development as another sure indication that the metropolitan area will have a population of a million people before many years. Darned if we don't agree with him!93 The Rocky Mountain News also touched on the main themes of economic development and national security: For our part, we are proud that the area has been chosen for another important contribution to the nation's strength and future security. We are satisfied that the AEC and Dow Chemical Company, which will operate the plant, will be pleased with the site. This new plant will be another addition to the growth and development of the Greater Denver area. We are glad it is coming here.94 Senator Millikin noted that "it's going to be a lot safer to work in this particular installation than in many other industries not engaged in atomic research or production." He and Senator Johnson agreed that Rocky Page -56

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Flats would be "the safest of all atomic energy plants."95 Along with this boosterism and optimism came some cautionary appraisals. Representative Hill noted that "the influx of workers will tax available water supplies and highways to capacity," but thought area towns would be able to furnish sufficient housing. He indicated that he would seek additional defense appropriations to include funds for schools, roads, and other public works that would need to be improved.96 F.O. Repplier, president of the Boulder County school board, warned that probable school overcrowding increased the likelihood of double sessions. Others in Boulder cited the costs of maintaining various municipal functions in the event of large numbers of workers moving into the city as a problem, while some bemoaned the loss of desirable small town characteristics as development progressed. The growing prospects of their city becoming a target for enemy bombs was another concern mentioned by Boulder residents.97 Denverites also worried about the implications Rocky Flats would have for their city. "I just bought a house a few days ago. Since hearing this news I'm extremely happy it's an older type construction. They're Page 57

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supposed to be sturdier, you know," said advertising specialist Walter Kranz. Harold Shuteran, an insurance agent, believed "I would rather see other types of industry come to Denver and Colorado. Defense plants are all right when they're in operation, but once the need for them is past, you have nothing left but empty shells. I'd prefer to see the Atomic Energy Commission concentrate its activities in the Nevada desert." Cleaning shop owner Frank Beaver was another not pleased with the news. "What good is a business if there aren't any people?" he asked. "There might be more people for awhile, when the workers start coming in. But then, in the long run, there may be no people. I don't like it." Doris Lybrand, an elevator operator, wanted more time before making up her mind: "I haven't given it much thought. There's probably a lot to be said on both sides, but I'm reserving my opinion until I think the matter over some more."98 Golden Mayor Everett Barnhardt thought the plant "will cause quite a housing problem," but he noted that at least it would mean a good foothills road would finally be built linking his city with Boulder. Dr. Thomas J. Mills, mayor of Arvada, worried that his town would receive the brunt of the traffic to the plant. The Page 58

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needs of present residents were his primary concern, and the new plant "is going to cause us lots of headaches." The mayors of Boulder, Arvada, and Golden all claimed that little rental property was available in their cities, and that most current building was comprised of small houses.99 Indeed, construction of the plant threatened to intensify an already tight housing and labor market in the area. The towns of Golden, Englewood, and Littleton, the only three in the region currently not subject to rent controls, were faced with the prospect of reinstituting them. Area Rent Director Charles M. Queary termed the area's housing condition "critical."100 Dr. Gail Gilbert, runner-up in Arvada's mayoral race, warned that his town was not in position to handle the expected population boom. "It's apparent that Arvada is to take the brunt of the increase in population," said Gilbert. "Arvada doesn't have room in its boundaries for housing, until it has the utilities. We may have to allow the utilities to extend beyond our boundaries, and that's something we may have to do suddenly."101 The Denver office of the State Employment Service said employment was at an all-time high, and warned that Page -59

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a labor shortage was imminent for the metropolitan area. Unemployment was close to an "irreducible minimum," and the new defense installation's manpower requirements would result in a critical labor market or drastic reductions in less essential employment. The prevailing high level of employment was attributed to increased numbers of federal jobs, greater demand for consumer goods, and continued regional growth. Shortages loomed for male unskilled labor, engineers, technicians, stenographers, typists, office machine operators, and skilled laborers.102 Boulder County found it necessary to enact a freeze on all non-residential building near the Rocky Flats site on April 3. The measure banned "erection, construction, reconstruction or alteration of any building or structure used or to be used for any business, industrial or commercial purposes," effective immediately and for a period not longer than six months. Jefferson County also initiated a freeze on construction; both counties had been overwhelmed with applications for liquor licenses and building permits on land near the plant site. Since the area had never been zoned, county commissioners thought it prudent to Page 60

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implement the bans until zoning regulations could be imposed.103 Governor Thornton delayed final action on a bill passed by the legislature that would have set up a formula for future land acquisitions by the federal government. The bill required that both affected county commissioners and the state tax commission approve the acquisitions, but Thornton decided to withhold his signature until it was determined if the law would block construction of Rocky Flats.104 State Highway Engineer Mark U. Watrous ordered a swift survey of road conditions in the area surrounding the plant. He indicated that development of Highway 93 linking Boulder and Golden would receive immediate priority so it could facilitate construction of the plant, and that plans were being drawn to convert Highway 72, joining Denver and Arvada, into a limited access freeway similar to West 6th Avenue. Watrous said that the AEC would probably assume a significant portion of the costs for these improvements. The Denver-Boulder Bus Company applied for an additional scheduled run between the two cities via the Rocky Flats plant, calling it "the atomic plant route."105 Page 61

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The Civil Aeronautics Administration announced that air traffic would be restricted in the vicinity of Rocky Flats after construction was completed. James A. Fisk, air safety agent for the CAA in Denver, assumed that the controls would pe similar to those imposed in the air space around Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, and Hanford. "We just want to know who is flying in these areas and where he is going," said Fisk. It was also announced that Denver would be one of 26 cities to receive advanced airport surveillance radar within the year. The new system, with a range of 30 miles, would be used to monitor civilian aircraft.106 Henry L. Larsen, the state's civil defense director, used the news of the plant to try and wrangle more money out of the legislature for his program. He stated that the siting of Rocky Flats heightened the state's need for civil defense training and protection, arguing that the $100,000 he was allocated through next February was insufficient. "Four cents per capita allowed by the Legislature for state defense is not considered adequate for the type of civil defense contemplated," he wrote to the governor. Larsen asked for an appropriation of $350,000. As if to prove his point, just one month later Denver, Pueblo, and Colorado Page -62

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Springs were totally destroyed in a mock air raid designed to test Colorado's civil defense program.107 General Nathan F. Twining, vice chief of the u.s. Air Force, confirmed many residents' worst fears when he said Rocky Flats would increase the city's vulnerability as an air target. But he also provided some reassurance to Coloradans concerned that they were now high on the list of potential targets. "Naturally, we will put fighters in the air and provide other standard ground protection. Usually a radar screen is concentrated fairly close to an atomic center," he said. Touring Lowry Air Force Base, Twining maintained that the Rocky Mountain area was the best in the nation in terms of ability to resist an enemy onslaught: "Geographically and by reason of the mountain barriers, this section of the country would be much harder for an enemy to attack."100 With visions of Armageddon, a booming economy, scarce housing, plentiful jobs, and crowded highways vying for their attention, Colorado residents could be forgiven if they felt overwhelmed by the events of the past weeks. One local columnist, Pasquale Marranzino, was able to step back and view the proceedings from a broader perspective: Page 63

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For my money, and some of it will go for the plants, I wish Uncle Sam was building a glue factory or at least a horne for broken-down fivepercenters near Boulder and out on Rocky Flats. In a matter of months men of intelligence and purpose, patriotism and ambition will begin tinkering with the scientific version of Russian roulette -right in our own backyard. Possibly it satisfies that will-o'-the-wisp desire to live dangerously -on the brink of the chasm where death and destruction have made up the bed and turned back the covers. I have more pleasant memories of Rocky Flats. I can close my eyes and envision my father dodging its huge boulders, pushed there by some prehistoric glacier, in a rattling Model T. I can remember picking flowers, hunting grouse, searching for wild cherries along the slopes of Rocky Flats. That was before the atom got itself split and when the world was wonderful and World War I was The Last War. I knew Rocky Flats when. It seems too young to die and I wish Washington would reconsider and build its atom plants in Texas.109 Page -64

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CHAPTER 7 "THE ATOM PEOPLE AREN'T SAYING MUCH": CONSTRUCTION AND EARLY OPERATION OF ROCKY FLATS Within six weeks of their announcement that they intended to build an atomic facility at Rocky Flats, Atomic Energy Commission officials were forced to change the site of the plant. The original tract, straddling the boundary line between Boulder and Jefferson counties, was declared unsuitable due to complications involving surface and subsurface property rights. As a result, the site of the operation was moved one mile south and one mile east of the original location. This put the plant entirely within Jefferson County, and involved fewer property owners according to the AEC.110 The AEC made another important announcement the next day. It indicated that ground-breaking for a $1.8 million low-temperature research laboratory in Boulder would begin May 9. The lab would be operated by the Bureau of Standards and located on its 217-acre site near the Foothills P-arkway (Highway 93) and the Denver-Boulder Turnpike. The site had been purchased the previous year for $75,000. Stearns-Rodgers Manufacturing Company of Denver received an $800,000 contract for

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construction of the facility, with the remaining money earmarked for instruments and equipment. The AEC indicated that about 70 highly skilled employees would work at the lab.111 Preliminary work on Rocky Flats began on Wednesday, May 9. Carpenters erected a small guardhouse that commanded access to the rough construction road from Highway 93. A tight-lipped foreman declined to answer reporters' questions about activity in the area, explaining that he was "under explicit instructions to secrecy." All.visitors were turned away, and a 24-hour guard was mounted. An AEC spokesman in Los Alamos said he had no news on final acquisition of the two square miles of land on which the plant was to be built, but that appraisals by the Corps of Engineers should be completed within 10 days. At issue were the Lindsay Hereford Ranch and the Church Ranch lands.112 Project engineer David Persons announced that construction would begin without clear title to the property having been acquired. He sought to reassure local businessmen that they would have a role to play in the plant's construction, saying "We insist upon as much local purchasing and subcontracting as possible, as well as the use of local labor." Persons declined to disclose Page -66

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the projected completion date for the plant because it might serve as "a tipoff to Joe Stalin."113 Construction of permanent buildings began in June, at the same time that final negotiations were underway to acquire full title to the land. The first permanent structure was a "secret" processing building, but temporary inspectors' sheds, site offices, and a first aid station were already completed. Groundbreaking on the first permanent building began July 16, supervised by Edmund J. Goodheart of the Austin Company.114 Persons estimated that two-thirds of the $45 million cost of the plant would be allocated to facility construction, with the remainder going to land costs, engineering fees, equipment, and furnishings. "Much of the construction, including mechanical and electrical phases, will be sub-contracted giving due consideration to contractors in the Denver and Colorado area who are qualified for the job," said Persons. He estimated that as much as 50 percent of the work would be subcontracted. The first bids were to cover construction of security fences, a warehouse, the administration building, and permanent security guard and first aid stations. Those bids would be issued in June, with other contracts to be announced in July and August.115 Page -67

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AEC chairman Gordon Dean gave a hint of the future when he said that Rocky Flats might be enlarged far beyond the present planned scope and size. Dean also indicated that nationwide, one-fifth of the 5,700 federal atomic energy workers were involved in security. Despite the revelations of spies such as Klaus Fuchs, "the Russians aren't getting any information from us now," said Dean. James A. O'Brien, a former investigator for the Bureau of Narcotics and Army intelligence officer, was appointed chief of security at the plant. He had been with the AEC since 1947, working in security positions at several facilities.116 By late September the AEC administrative officer for Rocky Flats, Michael J. Sunderland, said construction work was "moving ahead at full speed" and he expected a steady stream of contracts to be awarded in the next few months. The processing plant was well underway, but again no completion date could be given due to security reasons.117 Among the early contracts awarded to local firms were: $500,000 for concrete work to Colorado Pre-Mixed Concrete; $50,000 for excavation work to Hinman Brothers Construction Company; $1 million for wiring of technical buildings to Collier Electric Company; and $2 million Page -68

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for plumbing, heating, and mechanical installations to a combine composed of McCarty and Johnson, Inc., Johnson and Davis Plumbing and Heating, and Bell Plumbing and Heating. Plans were announced for the laying of a spur line from either the Denver and Rio Grande Western tracks four miles south of the plant or from the Colorado and Southern railroad six miles to the east of the plant.118 The AEC also offered one of its few clues to the nature of the new plant, hinting that Rocky Flats would have some connection to weapons production, but denying that it would be the site for final assembly of nuclear bombs. Officials did acknowledge that radioactive materials would be handled in a secret new production process, and that the process set Rocky Flats apart from any other AEC installation.119 An AEC media relations representative, when questioned as to the need for. a laundry at the plant, replied that "it's common knowledge that when you are working with radioactive materials you have a decontamination problem." He also asserted that the plant offered no threat at all to the health of workers or residents of nearby communities. "Workers on the project will be safer than downtown office workers who Page 69

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have to cross busy streets on their way to lunch," he maintained.120 In its final Rocky Flats announcement of 1951, the AEC said that approximately $6 million in contracts would be awarded by the end of February, 1952.121 January, 1952 saw the agency release an architect's rendering prepared by the Austin Company of the planned administrative building and a combined medical and plant protection facility. The two-story administration building, to be shared by Dow Chemical and agency staffers, included 40,000 square feet of office space, while the medical/security building was 11,000 square feet. Costs for the projects were expected to range from $1 million to $1.3 million, with bids to be opened January 18 at the Brown Palace Hotel.122 As construction moved into high gear a shroud of secrecy descended over Rocky Flats. The public received their last look at the facility on October 11, 1951, the last time reporters were allowed on the site until construction was completed. Many Coloradans were growing restive. Ten miles of barbed-wire fencing enclosed the plant: a three-foot high fence had been erected to keep stray cattle and horses away, and another nine-foot electrified fence was designed to discourage curious Page 70

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people. Armed guards patrolled the perimeter of the plant, and only temporary structures were visible from the highway. Permanent structures such as the processing building were tucked inside an arroyo on the eastern escarpment of the Rocky Flats plateau. A reporter noted that "just what will be produced will probably not be known until a free world can examine atomic progress without fear," and "the atom people aren't saying much."123 Indeed, "we won't be able to tell when these various projects are started, how they're progressing and when they'll be completed. We know that sounds ultra hush-hush but we're quite sure the public wants that when it comes to atomic work," maintained the AEC's Sunderland. He announced that 20 major projects would begin within the year, and that about 1,000 male and 200 female employees would staff the complex when completed. All but 300 would be hired locally, and all would require "Q clearance," a top-secret designation reserved for atomic workers that required a background check covering the last 15 years of the employee's life.124 By the spring of 1952 there were 800 construction workers on the site, with about three times that number expected by summer. Water supply workers had recently Page 71

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staged a one-week strike, but the grievance had been resolved and work was continuing. A total of $1.6 million worth of contracts had been awarded so far. Still to be awarded were bids for $81,000 for an alarm and communications system, $164,000 for electrical distribution systems, $795,000 for the administration building, $71,000 for a water supply line, $90,000 for a 300,000-gallon water tank, $850,000 for a general machine shop and warehouse, $100,000 for a sanitary sewer system, and $225,000 for electrical work. The Austin Company received a $20 million contract for unspecified technical structures.125 By the end of the first year since the announcement, AEC officials said that construction was proceeding on schedule, with $2.5 million in contracts awarded so far. About 1,100 construction workers and 17 AEC employees were currently at the plant, and Dow Chemical was stepping up its recruiting efforts at local and state colleges. "Every effort is being made to obtain the plant's entire operating force from the local area labor pool," claimed a spokesman. Considerable quantities of scarce items, such as transformers and heavy industrial equipment, were being stockpiled at the plant site. No serious injuries had been reported to Page 72

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date, with only five minor injuries per million hours worked and .22 days lost due to injuries, according to the AEC.126 Firms holding contracts included Hinman Brothers for excavation and grading; Harold P. Doty of Garden City, Kansas for test borings; Collier Electric for mechanical subcontracting; McMurtry Manufacturing for interior and exterior glazing; John c. Reeves for acoustical tile ceilings, asphalt tile flooring, and wall insulation; Western Elateril Roofing for roof insulation and waterproofing; W.A. McKay for plastering, furring, and lathing; Marbelette Denver Floor Company for spark-proof flooring; Colorado Constructors, Inc., for roadway excavation; Scott Insulation and Supply for insulation of plumbing, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning components; Craftsman Painters and Decorators for painting; and Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for glazing. [Local firms unless otherwise noted.] Bids for eight major projects were to released shortly. These included a power substation, heating plant and steam lines, and water treatment plant on March 31; general laboratory in early April; eight small buildings on April 16; sewage treatment plant on April 17; water line to Ralston Page 73

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Reservoir in early spring; and roads on site in early summer.127 By midsummer the AEC reported that construction was running well ahead of schedule, and that the major portion of the work would be completed by early 1953. Project field manager Admiral Gilbert c. Hoover reiterated that the plant "will work with radioactive materials but there will be no weapons manufacture or production." The peak of construction work had occurred in July with employment of 2,800 workers. That effort was now tapering off. Hoover, a 35-year naval officer and Annapolis graduate, had just completed a stint at the Sandia National Laboratory and was recently named to replace David Persons. He announced that $40 million in contracts had been awarded so far, with three-fourths of the money being spent in Colorado. The construction payroll was expected to reach $14 million by completion, with $13 million of that going to state workers.128 Once again the AEC retreated behind a cloak of secrecy, offering little substantive news of developments at Rocky Flats for over a year. It did release several innocuous photographs of the administration building and "main clockroom," but Page 74

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otherwise gave out no information on plant Full title to the land was finally secured when a federal jury awarded a Jefferson County couple $49,216 for 400 acres seized by the government for Rocky Flats. Frank and Carrie Rodgers were also granted severance damages of $6,997. Government appraisals had valued the land at $12-$20,000; the Rodgers' claimed it was worth $132,000. In total the government had condemned 2,560 acres for the In September 1953 Hoover announced "we are sufficiently close to completion that we can say the total cost will be very close to $43,739,000." All manual construction laborers were slated to be off the job by the end of the month. Hoover declined to discuss the purpose of the facility, saying only that Rocky Flats "will play an important part in the defense of this country" and that it fell within the jurisdiction of the AEC's Santa Fe Operations Office "which has to do with research, development, testing and production of weapons." Nineteen major contracts with 17 firms had been awarded. The Austin Company had been the main contractor, receiving bids totaling $34.5 million, of which $19 million had been spent Page 75

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Four months later the AEC reported an increased tempo in all phases of research and development, both civilian and military. It said weapons were being produced "at a pace directed by the President," and acknowledged that a weapons research laboratory had been operating at Livermore, California since June, 1952. As for Rocky Flats, officials maintained that extensive safety precautions were exercised in the area and that operating experience demonstrated "no abnormal industrial hazard ... in any area." Recurring rumors of danger to humans, animals, and crops near the plant were dismissed by Hoover, who stated that Dow Chemical's safety record was "better.than most conventional industrial plants. Every feasible safety device was incorporated into the plant design. Extensive safety procedures have been in effect inside the plant area and in the surrounding countryside throughout the operational period." Working conditions at the plant were described by Hoover as "superior to those generally encountered."132 A federal condemnation suit was also acknowledged, with the trial set for April or May. Mrs. Katharine Church, and her son Marcus Church, claimed that "the construction and operation of the atomic Page -76

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energy project on the land taken had rendered their remaining land unsafe for grazing, agriculture and habitation." The Churches retained a 1,160-acre tract adjacent to the plant.133 Plant managers had acknowledged that Rocky Flats was "in production" by the fall of 1953, but what was being produced remained a matter of conjecture. An AEC report covering the agency's activities for the second half of the year mentioned Rocky Flats only once in an organizational appendix. The plant was listed under the division of military application. AEC commissioner Henry D. Smyth said the plant was "doing a very fine job," but refused to respond to questions concerning just what that job might be. He would say that he believed "the existence of atomic weapons offers some promise of bringing the people who run the world to their senses."134 Dow Chemical's initial contract for operating Rocky Flats expired in the fall of 1954. The AEC announced in October that the company would continue as the plant's operator through June 1957 under a new $436,000 annual contract. The agency also cited the company for its safety record at the plant, granting it an award of merit for reaching one million man-hours Page -77

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worked without suffering a disabling injury. To date three such injuries had occurred. The most recent, on February 23, 1953, had involved a vehicular This was only one of many safety awards the plant received in its first years of operation. A partial list of awards received by Dow Chemical in recognition of safety achievements includes: 1952 Certificate of Achievement Award of Merit 1953 Certificate 1954 Plaque, Award of Merit Certificate 1955 Certificate Certificate of Achievement Manufacturing Chemists Association; for no lost time injuries. AEC; for no lost time injuries. Colorado Industrial Commission; for lower accident and severity rates than national average. AEC; for 1,070,604 manhours without lost time injuries. Colorado Industrial Commission; for lower accident and severity rates than national average. Colorado Industrial Commission; for no lost time injuries. Manufacturing Chemists Association; for no lost time injuries. Page -78

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Plaque, Award of Honor Plaque, Award of Honor Trophy Plaque, Award of Merit 1956 1957 National Safety Council; for 3,007,778 man-hours without disabling injuries. AEC; for 3,007,778 manhours without disabling injuries. Colorado Industrial Commission; for 3,000,000 man-hours without accidents. AEC; for 1,993,898 manhours without disabling injuries.136 Hoover took great satisfaction with these awards, particularly the absence of any radiation related injuries. In early 1955 he noted that the most serious injuries occurring at the plant happened when a female employee fell and broke her elbow and when a construction worker sliced off a finger in a bandsaw mishap. Dow was now employing 1,097 workers at Rocky Flats, with an annual payroll estimated at $5,140,000. The AEC maintained 17 employees at the plant.137 Coloradans' first substantive information about the nature and mission of Rocky Flats came in the summer of 1955. AEC chairman Lewis L. Strauss inadvertently acknowledged that the plant was engaged in nuclear Page -79

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weapon production, and not devoted to peacetime development of atomic energy. In Denver to advise President Eisenhower on the recently concluded International Atoms for Peace conference, Strauss "appeared startled" when questioned about Rocky Flats. "That is a weapons center," he said. "It would be offlimits to discuss it at this conference -in fact, discussion of the project is off-limits anywhere." When asked about local residents' health concerns, Strauss replied "I'd have to give the matter considerable thought before saying anything about it. I can't even promise whether anything can be released after that."138 The first major expansion of the plant was announced in September 1955. The AEC indicated that the $13.5 million expansion would include two new buildings and related facilities, along with modifications to three existing buildings. Catalytic Construction Company of Philadelphia was the lead contractor for the work, which was expected to be completed by early 1957. Currently, Dow employed 1,061 workers at the plant, the AEC had 22, and one military liaison was permanently assigned there. Agency spokesmen refused to answer questions about the plant's role in weapons production, saying only that it was involved in "research, Page 80

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development, production and testing of atomic weapons. Rocky Flats is a classified production plant and handles radioactive materials. Production may include phases of fabrication, assembly of parts, procurement, production engineering, receipt and shipment, inspection and quality assurance, etc. Further information regarding the function of the plant would be of value to unfriendly nations and cannot be di$closed.''139 Another year would pass before residents learned officially the Rocky Flats was a "weapons production facility," and this news came only in circuitous fashion. The AEC's twentieth semi-annual report to Congress listed the plant under the heading "Additions to the Weapons Production Complex," noting that an expansion of the plant was underway and "corresponding necessary expansion of other weapon production facilities is planned. The u.s. family of weapons in various stages of research, development, and production engineering is increasing rapidly." The report also mentioned that Admiral Hoover had been replaced as plant manager by Seth R. Woodruff, who was assisted by Charles c. Campbell. The news led reporters to speculate that Rocky Flats was probably one component of the weapons Page 81

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production chain, but not by itself a producer of weapons.140 Five years and six months after they were told that an atomic plant was to be built nearby, Coloradans finally learned the broad outlines of what was being done at Rocky Flats. Page -82

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CHAPTER 8 EPILOGUE: ROCKY FLATS TODAY Pundits like to point out that most weapons programs are developed in two stages, too soon to tell and too late to stop. In the case of Rocky Flats, we have seen how the "too soon to tell" phase lasted for more than five years, and now the "too late to stop" period seems destined to continue for quite some time. Just as it was 40 years ago, Rocky Flats today is a major factor in the economic picture of the Denver metropolitan area. As of August 1990, the plant was the fifth largest manufacturing operation in the region, ranking ahead of such well-known firms as Gates Rubber, Storage Technology, Cobe Labs, and Samsonite. Only Martin Marietta, Adolph Coors Company, IBM, and AT&T ranked ahead of Rocky Flats in number of employees for manufacturing concerns. The total economic impact of the plant for 1990 was estimated at $823,381,000. Latest figures put the number of employees at the plant at 6,238, and the facility's 1991 budget is $787.4 million.141

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Since the time of Rocky Flats' construction a degree of concern about the safety of nearby residents has been apparent. A fire and explosion in the plutonium processing building in September 1957 sparked fears of dangerous radiation releases. These worries were exacerbated on May 11, 1969, when, in what was then the most expensive industrial accident in American history, a piece of scrap plutonium spontaneously ignited and caused $45 million in damage to the plant, an amount equal to the initial construction cost of Rocky Flats.142 That unease developed into an uproar by the mid-1970s, complete with annual protests at the plant attended by thousands, and has not abated yet. A state task force appointed to study the plant in 1975 noted that there were grave misgivings about the Plant's safety and the potential for a cataclysmic accident . We believe it an inescapable conclusion that there is a risk associated with the Rocky Flats Plant. . It seems certain that if the criteria evaluated for the original siting of the Rocky Flats Plant were applied for siting today, the Rocky Flats Plant would not be located near a densely populated area. The certainty that such a plant would not today be located at Rocky Flats, as well as our feelings that accidents will continue to occur even under the best circumstances, dictate our belief that such a plant should not be located at Rocky Flats.143 Page -84

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The Colorado Department of Health (CDH) noted at the time that "It is doubtful whether the plant site could ever be decontaminated for general public occupancy from a practical standpoint or based on economics."144 Two years later, Dr. Anthony Robbins, director of the CDH, said the plant's siting was clearly a mistake. The federal government made a decision to place a plant with a large quantity of plutonium and a lot of other trace elements pretty much within the Denver metropolitan area. When the plant was built in 1952, we were in a different era. At that time there was a tremendous effort to convince everyone that nuclear power and nuclear materials were safe. Everything we now know suggests they are really very unsafe.145 Despite these admissions, Jefferson County Health Department Director Dr. Carl J. Johnson was forced to resign in 1981 for publishing studies that indicated a connection between Rocky Flats plutonium operations and increased infant mortality and incidence of cancer among area residents.146 In recent years the Department of Energy has conceded the validity of these points. "A design review for Rocky Flats Plant is particularly pertinent," it noted, adding that "the technical standards employed at the time [of construction] were largely those of the operating contractor or were manufacturers' association Page 85

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standards. A uniform policy for application of industry engineering codes and standards was not in place.11147 A 1988 report submitted to Congress by President Ronald Reagan cited problems of aging facilities, waste cleanup, and public opposition to plants like Rocky Flats as reasons for the need to modernize the weapons complex. It recommended that plant activities be relocated within the next 10 years, but assigned the relocation only a third-level priority, a rating that was considered 110ptimal for the future, .. but dependent on funding. Even given adequate funding, the relocation process would continue until at least 2010.148 The DOE has estimated that the cost of cleaning up its weapons plants could reach $6 billion per year later this decade, about two times the present level of spending. Leo Duffy, director of the DOE's environmental management office, said 11We're going to get it from the taxpayer. There's no other supply ... The Reagan report estimated that replacing Rocky Flats would cost $3.3 billion, with additional operating funds of $1.2 billion and $1.6 billion required for transition and decommission and decontamination, respectively, of the current site.149 Page -86

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Due to repeated safety problems and the accumulation of radioactive waste at the plant site, all plutonium operations at Rocky Flats were suspended in November 1989. Within several months a Department of Defense official maintained that it was "absolutely critical" that production operations be resumed. Energy Secretary James Watkins agreed, saying "there will be severe ramifications" for the nation's supply of nuclear weapons if production of plutonium triggers did not resume "pretty soon." Calling the plant "kind of a wounded animal out there, barely hanging in there," Watkins vowed that work would resume at the plant. Current plant manager Bob Nelson has indicated that fabrication of triggers could resume by the end of this year, and President George Bush's February 4, 1991 budget submittal to Congress included a $283 million supplemental request necessary to restart plutonium operations at the plant.150 More recently, Watkins has recommended a restructuring of the weapons complex that would remove all plutonium operations from Rocky Flats, a process that is projected to take up to 20 years and cost from $3.6 billion to $4.3 billion. Watkins observed "much of the nuclear weapons complex was constructed Page 87

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three or four decades ago and is now in need of repairs or replacement. If a strong nuclear deterrent is to remain a key component of this nation's national security program, then we must reconfigure the nuclear weapons complex to meet our future needs." A final decision on the restructuring plan is expected in 1993. But, as Watkins said, "We have to live with Rocky Flats working the plutonium issue for at least 20 years. You don't transfer a Rocky Flats function. You're talking about billions and billions of dollars of reinvestment in somebody else's back yard. I just don't see somebody coming forward and saying 'We'd like Rocky Flats in our back yard. '" 151 Page -88

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BIBLIOGRAPHY Books Abbott, Carl, Stephen J. Leonard, and David McComb. Colorado: A History of the Centennial State. Boulder: Colorado Associated University Press, rev. ed., 1982. Allardice, Corbin, and Edward R. Trapnell. The Atomic Energy Commission. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1974. Ball, Howard. Justice Downwind: America's Atomic Testing Program in the 1950's. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986. Cuddihy, Richard G., and George W. Newton. Human Radiation Exposures Related to Nuclear Weapons Industries. Albuquerque, NM: Lovelace Biomedical Environmental Research Institute, 1985. Diggins, John Patrick. The Proud Decades: America in War and Peace, 1941-1960. New York: w.w. Norton and Co., 1988. Donovan, Robert J. Conflict and Crisis: The Presidency of Harry S Truman 1945-1948. New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1977. Tumultuous Years: The Presidency of Harry s Truman 1949-1953. New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1982. Einstein, Alfred, introduction, and commentary by George Fielding Eliot. The H Bomb. New York: Didier Publishers, 1950. Final Report -Lamm-Wirth Task Force on Rocky Flats. Documentary Report by Dr. Robert Damrauer. 1975. Ford, Daniel. The Cult of the Atom: The Secret Papers of the Atomic Energy Commission. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982.

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Freedman, Lawrence. The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1981. Gaddis, John Lewis. The United States and the Origins of the Cold War, 1941-1947. New York: Columbia University Press, 1972. Goldman, Eric F. The Crucial Decade and After: America 1945-1960. New York: Vintage Books, 1956 and 1960. Goudie, Andrew. The Human Impact: Man's Role in Environmental Change. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1982. Herken, Gregg. The Winning Weapon: The Atomic Bomb in the Cold War, 1945-1950. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1980. Hewlett, Richard G., and Francis Duncan. Atomic Shield 1947/1952: Volume II of a History of the United States Atomic Energy Commission. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1969. Hiskes, Anne L., and Richard P. Hiskes. Science, Technology and Policy Decisions. Boulder: Westview Press, 1986. Johnson, Paul. Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Eighties. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1983. Kaufmann, William F., ed. Military Policy and National Security. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press,1956. Koistinen, Paul A.C. The Military-Industrial Complex: A Historical Perspective. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1980. Kolko, Gabriel. The Roots of American Foreign Policy: An Analysis of Power and Purpose. Boston: Beacon Press,1969. LaFeber, Walter, ed. America in the Cold War: Twenty Years of Revolution and Response, 1947-1967. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1969. Page 90

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Lamm, Richard D., and G. Michael McCarthy. The Angry West: A Vulnerable Land and Its Future. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin Co., 1982. Leonard, Stephen J., and Thomas J. Noel. Denver: From Mining Camp to Metropolis. Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 1990. Lilienthal, David E. Change, Hope, and the Bomb. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1963. Limerick, Patricia Nelson. The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West. New York: w.w. Norton and Co., 1987. Loeb, Paul. Nuclear Culture: Livinq and Working in the World's Largest Atomic Complex. Philadelphia: New Society Publishers, 1986. Malin, James C. The Grassland of North America. Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1967. Metzger, H. Peter. The Atomic Establishment. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1972. Mills, c. Wright. The Power Elite. New York: Oxford University Press, 1956. Mojtabai, A.G. Blessed Assurance: At Home with the Bomb in Amarillo, Texas. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin Co., 1986. Nash, Gerald D. The American West Transformed: The Impact of the Second World War. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1985. World War II and the West: Reshaping the Economy. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1990. Orlans, Harold. Contracting for Atoms. washington, DC: The Brookings Institution, 1967. Pursell, Carroll W., Jr. The Military-Industrial Complex. New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, 1972. Rapoport, Roger. The Great American Bomb Machine. New York: E.P. Dutton and Co., Inc., 1971. Page 91

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Rees, David. The Age of Containment: The Cold War 1945-1965. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1967. Ringholz, Raye c. Uranium Frenzy: Boom and Bust on the Colorado Plateau. New York: w.w. Norton and Co., 1989. Rosenthal, Debra. At the Heart of the Bomb: The Dangerous Allure of Weapons Work. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., Inc., 1990. Smith, Henry Nash. Virgin Land: The American West as Symbol and Myth. Cambridge, MA: The Harvard University Press, 1950. Schilling, Warner R., PaulY. Hammond, and Glenn H. Snyder. Strategy, Politics, and Defense Budgets. New York: Columbia University Press, 1962. Smoke, Richard. National Security and the Nuclear Dilemma. New York: Random House, 1984. Steel, Ronald. Pax Americana. New York: The Viking Press, 1967. Tucker, William. Progress arid Privilege: America in the Age of Environmentalism. Garden City, NY: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1982. Whitehead, Don. The Dow Story: The History of the Dow Chemical Company. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1968. Yergin, Daniel. Shattered Peace: The Origins of the Cold War. New York: Penguin Books, 1977, revised 1990. Articles Adler, Les K., and Thomas G. Paterson, "Red Fascism: The Merger of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia in the American Image of Totalitarianism," American Historical Review 75 (April 1970): 1046-1064. Page -92

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Clayton, James L., "The Fiscal Limits of the WarfareWelfare State: Defense and Welfare Spending in the United States Since 1900," Western Political Quarterly 24 (1976): 364-383. Cuff, Robert D., "An Organizational Perspective on the Military-Industrial Complex," Business History Review 52 (Summer 1978): 250-267. "The Dow Expansion," Fortune (April 1951): 104-109, passim. Gardner, Hugh, "The Brave New World That Is Rocky Flats," Denver Magazine (May 1977): 35-38, 50, 52, 53. Harvey, Linda, "Colorado's Nuclear Contamination: What You're Not Told," Denver Volume 4, Number 11 (March 1976): 34-39, 62. Hays, Samuel P., "From Conservation to Environment: Environmental Politics in the United States Since World War II," Environmental Review (Fall 1982): 14-39. Herring, George c., Jr., "Lend-Lease to Russia and the Origins of the Cold War, 1944-1945," Journal of American History 16, Number 1 (June 1969): 93-114. Hohenemser, Christopher, "Public Distrust and Hazard Management Success at the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant," Risk Analysis Volume 7, Number 2 (1987): 243-259. Klotz, Marcia, "A Citizen's Guide to Rocky Flats: Environmental and Safety Issues at the Nuclear Weapons Plant," Rocky Mountain Peace Center (1988). Lilienthal, David E., "Science and Man's Fate," The Nation Volume 163, Number 2 ( 13 July 1946"'): 39-41. Lotchin, Roger w., "The Metropolitan-Military Complex in Comparative Perspective: San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, 1919-1941," in Raymond A. Mohl, ed., The Making of Urban America, Page 93

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(Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, Inc., 1988), pp. 202-213. originally published in Journal of the West 18 (July 1979): 19-30. Mr. X (George Kennan), "The Sources of Soviet Conduct," Foreign Affairs 25 (July 1947): 566-582. Murphy, Charles J., "The u.s. As a Bombing Target," Fortune (November 1953): 118-121, passim. "A National Estimate," Fortune (April 1951): 87-90, passim. "National Roundup," Nuclear Times Volume 1, Number 2 (December 1982): 14. "Notes on the H-Age," Fortune (November 1953): 118, 219. "Report on Rearmament," Fortune (April 1951): 93-98, passim. Rosenberg, David Alan, "American Atomic Strategy and the Hydrogen Bomb Decision," Journal of American History Volume LXVI, Number 1 (June 1979): 62-87. Schilling, Warner R., "The H-Bomb Decision: How to Decide Without Actually Choosing," Political Science Quarterly 76, Number 1 (March 1961): 24-46. Turner, Frederick Jackson, "The Significance of the Frontier in American History," in The Early Writings of Frederick Jackson Turner, ed. Everett E. Edwards. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1938. Wells, Samuel F., Jr.' "The Origins of Massive Retaliation," Political Science Quarterly Volume 96, Number 1 (Spring 1981): 31-52. Newspapers Boulder Daily Camera Denver Post New York Times Page 94

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Rocky Flats Monitor Rocky Mountain News Straight Creek Journal Wall Street Journal Manuscript Collections Colorado Historical Society -Geographic File Colorado State Archives -Governor Thornton Collection; Governor Edwin c .. Johnson Collection; u.s. Atomic Energy Commission File; Civilian Defense File E-7; Atomic Energy Commission FileD-56 Rocky Flats Environmental Monitoring Council -Rocky Flats Collection Rocky Flats Public Reading Room, Front Range Community College Rocky Flats Collection Western Historical Collection, Norlin Library, University of Colorado at Boulder -Walter Orr Roberts Collection; Boulder Eco-Center Collection; Gary Hart Papers; American Friends Service Committee Collection Interviews Al Hazle, Colorado Department of Health, liaison to Radiation Control Department of Rocky Flats Program Unit,interview by author, 18 December, 1990. Howard Brown, executive director, Rocky Flats Environmental Monitoring Council, interview by author, 17 December, 1990. Page 95

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ENDNOTES 1 Debra Rosenthal, At the Heart of the Bomb: The Dangerous Allure of Weapons Work (Reading, MA: AddisonWesley Publishing Co., Inc., 1990), p. 46. 2 Hanson w. Baldwin, "What Are the Facts About the Hydrogen Bomb?", in The H-Bomb, introduction by Alfred Einstein, commentary by George Fielding Eliot (New York: Didier Publishers, 1950), pp. 25-30. 3 Hugh Gardner, "The Brave New World That Is Rocky Flats," Denver Magazine, May 1977, p. 36. 4 Harold Orlans, Contracting for Atoms, (Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution, 1967), p. 5. s Ibid., pp. 11, 13, 31, and 32. 6 Don Whitehead, The Dow Story: The History of the Dow Chemical Company, (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1968), p. 222. 7 Henry Nash Smith, Virgin Land: The American West as Symbol and Myth (Cambridge, MA: The Harvard University Press, 1950); Patricia Nelson Limerick, The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West (New York: w.w. Norton and Company, 1987); Frederick Jackson Turner, "The Significance of the Frontier in American History," in The Early Writings of Frederick Jackson Turner, edited by Everett E. Edwards (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1938); Richard D. Lamm and Michael McCarthy, The Angry West: A Vulnerable Land and Its Future (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin Company, 1982) 8 Warner R. Schilling, "The H-Bomb Decision: How to Decide Without Actually Choosing," Political Science Quarterly 76, Number 1 (March 1961), p. 25. 9 John Lewis Gaddis, The United States and the Origins of the Cold War, 1941-1947, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1972), pp. 68-69. 10 Ibid., p. 74.

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11 George c. Herring, Jr., "Lend-Lease to Russia and the Origins of the Cold War," Journal of American History 16, Number 1 (June 1969), pp. 93-114. 12 Mr. X (George Kennan), "The Sources of Soviet Conduct," Foreign Affairs Volume 25 (July 1947), pp. 566-582. 13 For production and delivery, see Gregg Herken, The Winning Weapon: The Atomic Bomb in the Cold War, 1945= 1950 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1980), pp. 196-197. For delivery of weapons, see Daniel Yergin, Shattered Peace: The Origins of the Cold War (New York: Penguin Books, 1977, revised 1990), pp. 241, 266 .. For modifications of bombers, see Samuel F. Wells, Jr., "The Origins of Massive Retaliation," Political Science Quarterly 96, Number 1 (Spring 1981), p. 48. For test cancellation, see Yergin, p. 246. 14 28 November 1945 Congressional Record; quoted in John Lewis Gaddis, The United States and the Origins of the Cold War, 1941-1947 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1972), p. 245. 15 For uranium monopoly and Groves' attitude toward the Soviets, see Herken, pp. 101-103,105, 273n. For Bush, see Lawrence Freedman, The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1981), p. 28. For Truman, see Robert J. Donovan, Tumultuous Years: The Presidency of Harry S Truman, 1949-1953 (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1982), p. 103. 16 quoted in Yergin, p. 123. 17 quoted in Herken, p. 256. 18 Richard Smoke, National Security and the Nuclear Dilemma (New York: Random House, 1984), p. 55. 19 Herken, p. 288. 20 quoted in Wells, p. 47. 21 Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, "The Hydrogen Bomb and International Control: Technical and Background Information," p. 23; quoted from address to 81st Congress, 2nd Session, 31 January 1950. Walter Orr Roberts Collection, Box 34, General Information Folder, Page -97

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Western Historical Collection, Norlin Library, University of Colorado at Boulder (WHC). 22 quoted in Schilling, "The H-Bomb Decision," p. 44. 23 Smoke, p. 62. 24 For labor and power consumption, see Anne L. Hiskes and Richard P. Hiskes, Science, Technology and Policy Decisions (Boulder: Westview Press, 1986), p. 76. For Dean, see Freedman, p. 69, and New York Times 3 January 1951, p. 1. 25 "A National Estimate," Fortune April 1951, p. 90; New York Times 24 January 1951, p. 28. 26 Denver Post 1 March 1951, p. 11. 27 Rocky Mountain News 13 August 1951, p. 1. 28 Boulder Daily Camera 2 April 1951, p. 12. 29 quoted in Eric F. Goldman, The Crucial Decade and After: America 1945-1960 (New York: Vintage Books, 1956, 1960), pp. 136-137. 30 John Patrick Diggins, The Proud Decades: America in War and Peace, 1941-1960 (New York: w.w. Norton and Co., 1988), p. 329. 31 Paul Johnson, Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Eighties (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1983), p. 48. 32 Rosenthal, p. 5. 33 David E. Lilienthal, Change, Hope, and the Bomb (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1963), pp. 18-19. 34 David E. Lilienthal, "Science and Man's Fate," The Nation, 13 July 1946, p. 41. 35 For the Curies, see Rocky Mountain News 19 February 1979, p. 4. For Denver uranium mine, see testimony before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation by Al Hazle, 4 March 1979. Gary Hart Papers, Box 106, Folder 3, Western Historical Collection, Norlin Library, University of Colorado at Boulder (WHC). For training Page 98

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centers, see Denver Post 1 March 1948, p. 15. The other centers were located in California, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, and Texas. 36 Denver Post 21 May 1948, p. 3. 37 Denver Post 16 December 1949, p. 3. 38 Denver Post 1 March 1951, p. 43. The final vote was 854-39 in favor of the resolution advocating use of atomic Denver Post 2 March 1951, back page. 39 Denver Post 8 April 1951, p. 2A. 40 Newsweek 11 December 1950, pp. 72-74. 41 For shelters, see Denver Post 2 March 1951, p. 3. For basement survey, see Denver Post 16 March 1951, p. 2. For Berger, see Rocky Mountain News 23 March 1951, p. 19. For Roberts, see Rocky Mountain News 28 April 1951, p. 17 42 6 September 1950 letter from Walter Orr Roberts to Colonel Carl H. Jablonsky. Walter Orr Roberts Collection, Box 12, Folder 17, WHC. 43 Atomic Energy Hearing, part 1, 79th Congress, 1st Session, November 27-30, 1945, p. 335. Quoted in Howard Ball, Justice Downwind: America's Atomic Testing Program in the 1950's (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), p. 8. 44 Denver Post 5 May 1951, back page. 45 For a discussion of the reasoning behind American planners' decision to proceed with the hydrogen bomb program, see Schilling, "The H-Bomb Decision," pp. 27-35. 46 Ball, p. 41. 47 For test blast danger, see Rocky Mountain News 24 March 1955, p. 5. For "fright strategy," see undated letter from Edwin c. Johnson "To All Concerned," Edwin c. Johnson Papers, Box 27151, Atomic Fallout File, Colorado State Archives (CSA). For "arrest" and "hysteria," see 21 March 1955 letter from Edwin c. Hohnson to Mrs. Connie Monfort, Atomic Fallout File, CSA, and Denver Post 14 March 1955, p. 3. For Strauss, Page -99

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see 23 March 1955 letter from Edwin c. Johnson to Admiral Strauss, and 6 June 1955 letter from Lewis L. Strauss to Edwin c. Johnson, u.s. Atomic Energy Commission File, Box 27151, CSA. 48 For Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, see Paul Loeb, Nuclear Culture: Living and Working in the World's Largest Atomic Complex (Philadelphia: New Society Publishers, 1986), p. 27, and Orlans, p. 18. For Monsanto, see Corbin Allardice and Edward Trapnell, The Atomic Energy Commission (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1974), p. 19. For Pantex, see A. G. Mojtabai, Blessed Assurance: At Home with the Bomb in Amarillo, Texas (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1986), p. 44. 49 Orlans, p. 18. 50 Richard G. Hewlett and Francis Duncan, Atomic Shield 1947/1952, Volume II of a History of the United States Atomic Energy Commission (University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1969), p. 571. 51 Ibid., p. 494. 52 27 March 1951 letter from A.T. Waidelich, vice president and manager of Research Division of the Austin Company to Carroll L. Tyler, manager, Santa Fe Operations Office, u.s. Atomic Energy Commission. Rocky Flats Public Reading Room, Front Range Community College. 53 "Engineering and Survey Report for the Santa Fe Operations Office of the United States Atomic Energy Commission on the Location and Site for Project Apple," by the Austin Company, submitted 27 March 1951, pp. 1-3, 1-4. Rocky Flats Public Reading Room, Front Range Community College. 54 Ibid., pp. 1-7 through 1-10. 55 Ibid., pp. 3-5, 1-12. 56 Ibid., pp. 1-10, 4-9, 2-1, 4-9. 57 Ibid., pp. 2-2, 4-10, 4-11. sa Ibid., pp. 1-11 through 1-14. 59 Ibid., p. 4-1. Page 100

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60 Marcia Klotz, "A Citizen's Guide to Rocky Flats: Environmental and Safety Issues at the Nuclear Weapons Plant," (Boulder: Rocky Mountain Peace Center, 1988), p. 1. 18 December 1990 interview withAl Hazle, liaison to Radiation Control Department of Rocky Flats Program Unit, Colorado Department of Health. 17 December 1990 interview with Howard Brown, executive director of Rocky Flats Environmental Monitoring Council. 61 27 March 1951 letter from A.T. Waidelich to Carroll L. Tyler, attached to "Engineering and Survey Report ... ," Rocky Flats Public Reading Room, Front Range Community College. 62 quoted in Whitehead, p. 223. 63 Boulder Daily Camera 24 March 1951, p. 1. 64 For weather, see Denver Post 23 March 1951, pp. 1, 3. For Thornton and the Blau trial, see Rocky Mountain News 22 March 1951, pp. 1, 3. For investigations, see ROCky Mountain News 21 March 1951, p. 5. 65 For "Peanuts" and "Cry Danger," see Rocky Mountain News 22 March 1951, pp. 2, 28. For television, see Rocky MOUntain News 22 March 1951, p. 15, and Denver Post 22 March 1951, p. 1. For mayor's salary, see Rocky Mountain News 21 March 1951, p. 28. 66 Rocky Mountain News 24 March 1951, p. 1; Boulder Daily Camera 24 March 1951, p. 1. 67 For surveyors and Berner, see Boulder Daily Camera 23 March 1951, p. 1. For Thornton and area officials, see Denver Post 23 March 1951, p. 3, and Boulder Daily Camera 23 March 1951, p. 1. 68 69 70 71 Rocky Mountain News 24 March 1951, p. 6. Boulder Daily Camera 23 March 1951, pp. 1, 2. Boulder Daily Camera 24 March 1951, p. 10. New York Times 24 March 1951, p. 26. 72 For search, see Boulder Daily Camera 24 March 1951, p. 1, and Rocky Mountain News 24 March 1951, p. 1. For Page 101

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Persons, see Rocky Mountain News 24 March 1951, p. 1. For sale of land, see Boulder Daily Camera 24 March 1951, p. 1. 73 "The Dow Expansion," Fortune April 1951, pp. 104-1051 1821 184 o 74 Ibid. I p. 105. 75 Rocky Mountain News 25 March 1951, p. 5. 76 For Langell and Persons, see Boulder Daily Camera 24 March 1951, p. 1. For Matheson, see Rocky Mountain News 30 March 1951, p. 10. 77 78 Boulder Daily Camera 23 March 1951, p. 1. Rocky Mountain News 31 March 1951, p. 20. 79 For Arsenal bids, see Rocky Mountain News 30 March 1951, p. 5. For Thornton, see Rocky Mountain News 24 March 1951, p. 17. eo Denver Post 30 March 1951, p. 2. 81 Rocky Mountain News 30 March 1951, p. 5. 82 For permanent employees, see Boulder Daily Camera 23 March 1951, p. 2. For bidding information, see Boulder Daily Camera 24 March 1951, p. 1. 8.3 84 85 86 Rocky Mountain News 24 March 1951, p. 8. Boulder Daily Camera 24 March 1951, p. 10. Boulder Daily Camera 23 March 1951, p. 1. Boulder Daily Camera 28 March 1951, p. 1. 87 Denver Post 1 April 1951, p. 7AA. Individual big league players had performed in Denver exhibitions previously, but never as part of a regular team. ee Rocky Mountain News 24 March 1951, p. 5. 89 For Henderson, see Denver Post 25 March 1951, p. 7. For Orrino, see Rocky Mountain News 24 March 1951, p. 17. Page 102

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90 Ibid. 91 Boulder Daily Camera 24 March 1951, p. 1. 92 Ibid. I pp. 1, 10. 93 Denver Post 26 March 1951, p. 12. 94 Rocky Mountain News 24 March 1951, p. 18. 95 Denver Post 4 April 1951, p. 19. 96 Ibid. 97 Boulder Daily Camera 24 March 1951, p. 10. 98 Rocky Mountain News 24 March 1951, p. 5. 99 For Barnhardt, see Rocky Mountain News 24 March 1951, p. 17. For rental property, see Rocky Mountain News 25 March 1951, p. 5. :LOO Boulder Daily Camera 25 March 1951, p. 1. :LO:L Rocky Mountain News 31 March 1951, p. 20. 102 Rocky Mountain News 25 March 1951, p. 22. 103 For construction freeze, see Boulder Daily Camera 4 April 1951, p. 8. For zoning, see Rocky Mountain News 31 March 1951, p. 28. 104 Boulder Daily Camera 30 March 1951, p. 1. 105 For highway improvements, see Boulder Daily Camera 31 March 1951, p. 4, and Rocky Mountain News 31 March 1951, p. 28. For bus route, see Boulder Daily Camera 11 May 1951, p. 5. 106 For CAA and Fisk, see Denver Post 4 April 1951, p. 17. For radar, see Rocky Mountain News 5 May 1951, p. 30. 107 For Larsen, see Rocky Mountain News 25 March 1951, p. 26. For air raid, see Rocky Mountain News 28 April 1951, p. 24. :LOB Rocky Mountain News 29 March 1951, p. 5. Page -103

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1.09 Rocky Mountain News 30 March 1951, p. 29. l.J.O Rocky Mountain News 4 May 1951, p. 6; Denver Post 4 May 1951, p. 19. ].].]. Rocky Mountain News 5 May 1951, p. 5. 1.1.2 Rocky Mountain News 10 May 1951, p. 23. 1.1.3 Denver Post 14 June 1951, p. 46. 1.1.4 Denver Post 12 October 1951, p. 20. J.J.S Rocky Mountain News 15 June 1951, p. 17. 116 For Dean, see Rocky Mountain News 13 August 1951, p. 1. For O'Brien, see Rocky Mountain News 25 August 1951, p. 35. 1.1.7 Rocky Mountain News 28 September 1951, p. 8. l.l.B Denver Post 12 October 1951, p. 20. 1.1.9 Ibid. I p. 1. 1.20 Ibid, p. 20. 1.21. Denver Post 11 November 1951, p. 15A. l.22 Rocky Mountain News 6 January 1952, p. 38. 1.23 Rocky Mountain News 22 March, 1952, p.l. 1.24 Ibid. 1.25 Rocky Mountain News 28 January 1952, p. 14. 1.26 Denver Post 22 March 1952, pp. 1, 2. 1.27 Ibid. 1.28 Denver Post 28 August 1952, pp. 1, 13. 1.29 Rocky Mountain News 15 February 1953, p. 55. 1.30 Rocky Mountain News 25 March 1953, p. 27. 1.31. Denver Post 2 September 1953, p. 1. Page 104

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132 For production pace, see Denver Post 31 January 1954, p. 1A. For plant safety, see Denver Post 28 February 1954, p. 17A. 133 Ibid. The suit was subsequently dismissed. Marcus Church joined with several other plaintiffs in 1975 and charged that the u.s. government, Dow Chemical Company, and Rockwell International (successors to Dow as operators of Rocky Flats) operated the plant in a negligent manner and prevented the plaintiffs from developing their land to its full potential. The u.s. District Court for the District of Colorado dismissed all claims on 27 May 1982. Upon appeal the decision was reversed, and the federal government offered to purchase the plaintiffs' lands east of the Rocky Flats plant as part of a settlement. Richard G. Cuddihy and George W. Newton, Human Radiation Exposures Related to Nuclear Weapons Industries, (Albuquerque: Lovelace Biomedical and Environmental Research Institute, 1985), pp. 136-138. 134 For AEC report, see Rocky Mountain News 5 March 1954, p. 9. For Smyth, see Rocky Mountain News 22 May 1954, p. 8. 135 Denver Post 31 October 1954, p. 3AA; Denver Post 28 October 1954, p. 47. 136 "Background Information on the Atomic Energy Commission's Rocky Flats (Colorado Production) Plant," u.s. Atomic Energy Commission, 1957, pp. 9-10. Geographic File, Rocky Flats Envelope, Colorado Historical Society. 137 138 139 140 Denver Post 15 February 1955, p. 3. Rocky Mountain News 23 August 1955, p. 8. Rocky Mountain News 11 September 1955, p. 5. Rocky Mountain News 5 September 1956, p. 1. 141 For ranking of manufacturing operations, see "1989 Population, Economic and Land-Use Data Base for Rocky Flats Plant," Report E90-038, Department of Energy, Rocky Flats Plant, Golden, Colorado, August 1990, p. 3-23. Rocky Flats Public Reading Room. For economic impact, see ibid., Appendix B-1. For employees and budget, see Denver Post 8 February 1991, p. 12A. Page 105

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142 Klotz, p. 4. Stephen J. Leonard and Thomas J. Noel, Denver: From Mining Camp to Metropolis (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 1990), pp. 319-320. 143 "Final Report Lamm-Wirth Task Force on Rocky Flats," 1 October 1975; Documentary Report by Dr. Robert Damrauer, pp. 4-6. 144 Colorado Department of Health -Staff Comments on the Environmental Assessment for the Rocky Flats Plant of u.s. Energy Research and Development Administration, May 1975, p. 2. Gary Hart Papers, Box 106, Folder 11, WHC. 145 146 Rocky Mountain News 17 April 1977, p. 18. Leonard and Noel, p. 319. 147 Response of the Department of Energy to the 8 March 1990 Recommendations of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, pp. 3, 1. Rocky Flats Public Reading Room. 148 United States Department of Energy Nuclear Weapons Complex Modernization Report, Report to the Congress by the President, December 1988, pp. 10, 18, 25. Rocky Flats Public Reading Room. 149 For Duffy, see Wall Street Journal 5 July 1990, p. A12. For replacement of Rocky Flats, see Modernization Report, p. 18. 15 For Watkins, see Rocky Mountain News 22 April 1990, pp. 46, 44. For Nelson and budget, see Rocky Flats Monitor February 1991, p. 1. 151 For Watkins on the current weapons complex, see Denver Post 8 February 1991, pp. 1A, 11A. For Watkins on the future of Rocky Flats, see Rocky Mountain News 29 March 1990, p. 17. Page 106