The First Secret City, a 2015 documentary film, will be screened and followed by Q & A with co directors Alison Carrick and C.D. Stelzer and lead subject Larry Burgan.
Before the creation of the secret cities of Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, and Hanford, the Manhattan Project hired the Mallinckrodt Chemical Works of St. Louis to refine the first uranium used in the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. For the next two decades, Mallinckrodt continued its classified work for the Atomic Energy Commission during the Cold War. The resulting radioactive waste contaminated numerous locations in the St. Louis area, some of which have not been cleaned up 70 years after the end of World War II. Told through the eyes of an overexposed worker, the story expands through a series of interviews that careen down a toxic pathway that leads to a fiery terminus at a smoldering, radioactively contaminated landfill. “ The First Secret City" reveals a forgotten history and its continuing impact on the community in the 21st century, uncovering past wrongdoing and documenting the continuing struggles to confront the issue.
Co-directors Alison Carrick and C.D. Stelzer are pleased to show their film at the Jacoby Arts Center in Alton. Following the documentary screening they will discuss with audience members how the radioactive waste left over from the Manhattan Project and the Cold War impacts our environment and human health, including water quality. This continuing community dialogue is essential to help foster an understanding, appreciation, and a sense of commitment about this often overlooked issue. Our rivers are a fundamental natural resource on which we all depend. Our region and our lives are interconnected by the convergence of the Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois Rivers. It is in our mutual interest to honor and protect this most valuable of resources for future generations. Jacoby Art Center, the Audubon Center at Riverlands and National Great Rivers Museum open their doors to this effort and in so doing demonstrate how art is itself an essential component to the American way of life and our shared values.