We’re pleased to announce that The First Secret City, the documentary that first revealed the radioactive legacy of the Manhattan Project on the St. Louis region, is available on Amazon, Amazon Prime and Vimeo on Demand, and can also be purchased online in DVD format. Advance DVD orders can be made here: http://www.pirate-media.net/first-secret-city.html
The past meets the present as a group of seemingly unrelated people discover alarming connections in their neighborhoods, revealing an unfolding environmental disaster in Coldwater Creek and West Lake Landfill Venice, Illinois and other locations. The film is essential for viewers interested in environmental issues, the history of World War II, and how decisions made decades ago continue to impact citizens today.
Before the creation of the secret cities of Los Alamos, Oak Ridge and Hanford, the Manhattan Project hired a St. Louis chemical company to process mountains of raw uranium ore for the bomb beginning in 1942. Initially, residents of the then-8th largest city in the United States were kept in the dark about the project, including the workers themselves. For the next 20 years, the classified work continued under the Atomic Energy Commission, while the waste piles grew in size and number. The resulting negligence contaminated numerous locations 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 from an impoverished African-American neighborhood in nearby Illinois to a suburban ballfield in St. Louis County, Missouri eventually leading to a fiery terminus at a smoldering, radioactively-contaminated landfill.
This groundbreaking film by Alison Carrick and C.D. Stelzer lays bare the long-ignored issue, painting a clear and accurate portrayal of the problem, which unfortunately is still being mischaracterized and falsely presented by some.
“Because we’re from here (St. Louis), I think we have a better understanding of the area in general, the history and politics of the area,” says Stelzer, who began reporting on the issue in 1991 for the Riverfront Times, the city’s alternative weekly newspaper.
The documentary debuted at the 2015 St. Louis International Film Festival and won the 2016 John Michaels Award at Southern Illinois University’s Big Muddy Film Festival. The Michaels Award recognizes films that advance awareness of critical social justice and environmental issues.
Years in the making, The First Secret City uncovers a forgotten history and its continuing impact on a sprawling metropolitan community in the 21st Century, exposing past wrongdoing and documenting renewed struggles to confront the issue.