Where USF faculty, students and graduates are invited to talk about journalism and its problems and opportunities. This blog is not affiliated with the University of San Francisco, nor is the university responsible for any of the opinions expressed herein -- though it is certainly responsible for the people who entertain those opinions, having educated them. They make us proud.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Teresa Rochester Interviews the Survivor of a Partial Nuclear Meltdown 50 Years Later

Teresa says she found this story -- all 82-column inches of it -- particularly satisfying. Here's an excerpt:

An improvised cleanup

It’s also true, Pace said of a story that seems more lore than fact, that women’s sanitary napkins were used to wipe down contaminated surfaces with cleansers gathered from around the 2,850-acre Field Laboratory after the meltdown. The absorbent material was more effective and longer lasting than sponges. A secretary suggested using them, he said.

“It was brilliant,” Pace said. “When we were done we’d throw it in a plastic bag and throw it out back.”

It’s likewise true, Pace said, that radioactive gases were released. The night of the surge, the men — dressed in nothing more protective than cotton coveralls — worried about venting “hot” gases into the air.

“The big thing on their mind was which way the wind was blowing,” Pace said. “They released that (gas) and it went out over the San Fernando Valley where all their children and families were, and they couldn’t say a thing about it because it was top secret.”

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