Pub. Date:
Battelle Press
Nuclear Legacy: Students of Two Atomic Cities

Nuclear Legacy: Students of Two Atomic Cities

by McQuerry


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781574770872
Publisher: Battelle Press
Publication date: 01/28/2000
Pages: 328
Product dimensions: 8.78(w) x 11.34(h) x 0.94(d)

Table of Contents

Reflections on Nuclear Culture
Chapter 1: The Frontier
Chapter 2: Hanford Beginnings - The Atomic Bomb and the Manhattan Project
Chapter 3: Hanford Community - WWII Cold War
Chapter 4: Chornobyl Beginnings
Chapter 5: Prypyat
Chapter 6: Reactors
Chapter 7: The Chornobyl Disaster
Chapter 8: Nuclear Legacy: Richland
Chapter 9: Nuclear Legacy: Chornobyl and Slavutych
Chapter 10: City of Slavutych Today
Chapter 11: City of Richland
Chapter 12: Diversification in the Business Community
Chapter 13: Diversification in Science and Technology
Chapter 14: The Future of Nuclear Energy
Chapter 15: Student Voices

What People are Saying About This

James E. Tarpinian

This book is believed to be the first count, through the eyes of children, of what it is like to grow up in a nuclear-focused community. The book was prepared over the past year by students at Hanford Middle School, in Richland, Washington, and teenage students in Slavutych, in the Ukraine. Slavutych is the city that was built to house displaced citizens of the town of Pripyat who were evacuated after the nuclear accident at the Chornobyl Reactor Unit 4 in 1986. Hanford is the site of the nuclear complex that was built in the early 1940’s by the United States (U.S.) government to produce plutonium for the U.S. nuclear weapons program. With the support of Bechtel Hanford, Inc., the Pacific National Northwest Laboratory, and the Richland Rotary Club, the students developed the book through both research and interviews with Richland and Slavutych residents who have been involved in their community’s nuclear and economic projects. The students coordinated their mutual project with videoconferencing, Internet and e-mail communications. The 328-page book is divided into three sections: History, The Communities Today, and The Future. Uniquely, the book is written in both English and Ukrainian and is well illustrated with color photographs taken by the students along with selected historical file photographs. Each section consists of a series of short, very readable essays written by various students. This organization makes it easy for the reader to pick the book up, read a little, and put it down without losing continuity. All of the topics are interesting and well researched. Although the age, writing ability and style of the students is varied, the book is surprisingly welldone, especially when one realizes that the book is entirely written by teenagers! The sections on the history of Hanford, development of the atomic bomb, the stories about the evacuation of the families from Pripyat and the descriptions of living in Slavutych are exceptional.

One difference I noticed in the writing styles of the American and Ukrainian students is that, by comparison, English seems efficient and functional, while the Ukrainians freely express themselves poetically. Even the Ukrainian essays containing technical material are written more like prose than the objective reporting of the U.S. students. The tendency of the Ukrainian writer to introduce subjective feelings into the story invokes an unexpected emotional response in the reader. One of the best examples is the description of the aftermath of the Chornobyl accident written by Julia Lapinska (14 years old): “Only photos and a memorial monument, placed on a square in our town are left to remind us of those who died. These people cannot be resurrected with tears. Anyway, it seems to me, if it were possible, every man on the planet Earth could sacrifice some of his soul to make those people alive again. But, this is.... impossible.”

Another contrast is the passion with which the Slavutych students speak about their hometown. They express sincere pride and hope, something sadly missing from the way Americans typically describe their own communities. The loving tribute to Slavutych written by Olga Schchukina is so breathtaking it is almost worth the price of the book in itself. For example, she writes, “I have lived in this wonderful city for just a few years and I feel it as the sunlight in the kingdom of chaos and darkness. I look at my city, I absorb its young beauty, I fill with highness of space and originality and just can’t help loving this land.

“My life and my hope Are entwined with you, my dream city I was born here, my dear Slavutych, You are my father and I am your child.

In reading the history I found some fascinating parallels between the two areas. For example, both the indigenous Indian tribes of the Hanford area and the Ukrainians share a profound love of the land and connection to it. Including the essays about the origins and practices of the American Indian tribes is especially insightful because it provides a necessary context to understand the powerful political influence that the tribes have today on Hanford cleanup decisions. Another interesting, but eerie, parallel is revealed in the scenes of the forced resettlement of White Bluffs and Hanford that are repeated almost a half century later in Pripyat as the residents’ governments offer them no choice and little information.

This book has relevance for anyone interested in today’s global community and the interdependence that is naturally arising. While the two cities share economic dependence on their nuclear based economies, there are some important differences in how the cities will go about economic diversification. The cleanup, deactivation, decontamination and decommissioning and waste management activities at both Hanford and Chornobyl will sustain the local economies for a time. But both communities realize that their futures depend on their ability to find new sources of business. In Richland, these businesses tend to be high technology companies that are spun off from the national laboratory work or the cleanup of the Hanford site. There are also local business groups that actively seek to bring in businesses from outside the community. By contrast, the Slavutych community is pursuing low-tech manufacturing (e.g. writing pens and paper clips) to bolster the economy and provide jobs. The efforts at revitalization are dependent on government help and international support, especially from the United States and the European Community. Economic development will be especially difficult as the Ukraine struggles with instability in the legal system, the government (there are currently 45 registered political parties) and the economy (inflation peaking at 280% in 1994). It is interesting to see, however, how the once communist country has so rapidly adapted to a free market economy, as evidenced by one Ukrainian businessman’s description of going head-to-head with the United Arab Emirates on manufacturing and marketing office supplies.

The concise, well-researched history of the Manhattan project and the building of the Hanford Works will appeal to anyone interested in the history of the nuclear age. The stories are complete with historical photographs and period cartoons along with interviews with local residents who lived through those times. The reader is treated to short biographies about some of the remarkable scientists who were involved in the effort, including Leo Szilard, Enrico Fermi, and Robert Oppenheimer. There are also small sub-stories that run concurrently with the main story, sometimes for several pages, in the contemporary style of today’s textbooks. These concurrent stories provide entertaining background material and create a sense of interaction with the authors. The historian will also appreciate the extensive bibliography of source material.

The very existence of this book causes us to pause and think about our changing world! The collaboration on a book about “nuclear legacy” between students of the United States and those of the former Soviet Union was almost unthinkable fifteen years ago. As well, fifteen years ago the technology that allowed the production of such an ambitious enterprise was the stuff of science fantasy. Indeed, the story of producing this book is attracting interest in the educational community as teachers are looking for new ways to challenge our talented youth. And isn’t that a measure of hope for our future? (James E. Tarpinian, CHP,Bechtel Hanford Inc., Richland, Washington

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