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Arvada Center to Host 'ROCKY FLATS THEN AND NOW,' 6/6-8


On June 6, 7, and 8, 2014, the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities will host Rocky Flats Then and Now: 25 Years After the Raid, a multifaceted event marking the 25th Anniversary of the historic raid on the nation's only factory making the plutonium cores for nuclear bombs. For the first time ever, on June 6, 1989 two federal government agencies -- the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA) - raided a third - the Department of Energy (DOE). This extraordinary action symbolized a change in U.S. national government priorities to an emphasis on environmental protection at a time when the Cold War nuclear arms race was ending. But the raid on this top-secret weapons plant located just northwest of Arvada also had real, and sometimes disputed, effects on the community and on the thousands of area men and women who worked there. In 1992 President George H.W. Bush ended the Rocky Flats bomb-building mission and a years-long $7 billion environmental clean-up began. Today, most of the 6,400-acre site has been designated the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge, an environmentally protected area.

Rocky Flats Then and Now: 25 Years After the Raid will feature an art and history exhibit (including photographs and artifacts from the Rocky Flats plant), the reading of a 1980 musical illustrating one artistic response to the controversy, information booths, and panel discussions focusing on the raid and its consequences, including a grand jury investigation and continuing questions about health issues and the plant cleanup. Speakers will include former Colorado Governor Roy Romer, former U.S. Representative David Skaggs, former FBI agent Jon Lipsky, and several plant workers, neighbors, activists, and experts.

"Arvada was significantly impacted by the construction and operation of Rocky Flats," said Arvada Center Executive Director, Philip C. Sneed. "The 25th anniversary of the raid that led to the plant's closure is a great time to examine the history and legacy of one of the nation's most important nuclear production facilities. Rocky Flats is an important part of Arvada's history, and yet it's a story with regional, national, and even international impact."

The Friday opening night event will feature a citizen forum - "Recalling the June 6, 1989 Raid," following an "Introduction to Rocky Flats in the 1989 World" by Len Ackland, who has written extensively about the plant. Forum participants include Charlie Church McKay, of Church Ranch, whose family lost land to the plant site and had a history of dealing with Department of Energy officials; Jack Weaver, a worker at Rocky Flats for 41 years; LeRoy Moore, Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, who went on a 24-day hunger strike to protest the continued operation of the plant. The forum chairperson is Kennette Benedict, Executive Director and Publisher, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Former Governor Romer and former Congressman Skaggs, who were both in office at the time of the raid, and Lipsky, the FBI leader of the raid, will be featured in the Keynote Panel on Saturday, June 7, at 10 a.m. That panel will be moderated by Patricia Limerick, Faculty Director and Chair of the Board, Center of the American West, CU Boulder. Other panel presentations will take place on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. They will include "Secrecy and Its Fallout," with Wes McKinley, foreman of the Rocky Flats Grand Jury and a former Colorado legislator; "What Do We Know about Rocky Flats Health Issues, 25 Years Later?" moderated by Laura Frank, Vice President, News, Rocky Mountain PBS and Executive Director, I-News Network; and "How Good Was the Cleanup of Rocky Flats?" with David Abelson, Executive Director, Rocky Flats Stewardship Council.

The major goals of this event are to educate the public and promote respectful dialogue about a vital, often controversial subject with strong links to the Arvada community. The panel discussions are aimed at having participants reflect on the lessons of the raid that occurred 25 years ago; they are not intended to be platforms for rehashing old fights. The event has been organized by the Arvada Center in partnership with the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado Boulder and the Rocky Flats Institute and Museum (formerly the Rocky Flats Cold War Museum).

Additional programming and details will be announced in the coming months. For up-to-date information go after Feb. 24 to Rocky Flats Then and Now: 25 Years After the Raid is sponsored in part by The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

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