Kristen Iversen, author of “Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats” was the 2014 Book in Common author at Collin College. Her book details growing up near the nuclear power plant Rocky Flats and the devastating effects of the plant on the environment and local residents.
Q. Why did you decide to write the book?
A. I was curious about the “power plant” called Rocky Flats that I grew up next to. It turns out residents were being lied to. I didn’t discover that there were nuclear contaminants leaking until I was a young woman when I worked at the plant. I was outraged that I could grow up here, work here and not be told what was happening.
Q. When did you realize something was different at Rocky Flats?
A. In the book, there is a scene where I look over a hill on a lake and I see a dead cow in the water. That was the first moment that it occurred to me that something was wrong. That moment lurked in the back of my mind and I wanted to know what was going on. It stayed with me. Once other animals got sick and I learned the incredible, dramatic story, it became an obsession.
Q. What were some major challenges you faced when you were writing the book?
A. Researching my book took about 10 years, so just that was a huge challenge. In Colorado, there is fear and silencing about Rocky Flats even to present day. People in my neighborhood and people I knew were scared for me to write the book. But the book has made a difference in the world, in ways I never knew or expected and people are ready to look at our environmental legacy.
Q. What do you want people to take away from the book?
A. I really want students and community members to have an understanding of this country’s history and our environmental legacy. This topic of nuclear power is current and crucial – it’s not just something that happened in the past or some faraway place. People have to be aware of what’s going on in their own backyard and how things affect them.
Q. How can people become involved in issues that are important to them?
A. Look for ways you can get in touch with local politicians to support causes on a local level that are important to you. Use Twitter, Facebook and email to voice your opinion and make your voice heard. It’s very important for people to be aware of what’s happening in their communities.