Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Fall 2012

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Anthropology

First Advisor

Dr. Donna Goldstein

Abstract

In the midst of an energy crisis, questions regarding the value of nuclear energy as an alternative energy source persist despite the promise of its cheap, efficient and low carbon emission characteristics. The uncertain scientific and political history surrounding the nuclear industry has facilitated these questions. In this study, I look at a case in Cañon City, Colorado where a uranium mill that was built during the Cold War era in hopes of contributing to a new and peaceful nuclear industry became an example of the potential negative effects that this industry poses to worker and public health. Despite over twenty years of being an EPA designated National Priorities Superfund site, contamination from the uranium mill into the residential and public environments surrounding the mill continues to produce questions in the community regarding the real or perceived threats that the radioactive and toxic contaminates pose to the health of the community. In this paper, I demonstrate the wide range of opinions and perceptions of the nuclear energy industry in the context of a community that has experienced an adverse consequence of the industry. This study exemplifies the persisting uncertainties regarding low-dose radiation exposure and the political atmosphere surrounding the nuclear energy industry in communities that have been negatively affected by the front-end processes of the nuclear fuel cycle.

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