The First Secret City
U.S., 2015, 120 min.
Before the creation of the secret cities of Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, and Hanford, the Manhattan Project hired the Mallinckrodt Chemical Works of St. Louis to refine the first uranium used in the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. For the next two decades, Mallinckrodt continued its classified work for the Atomic Energy Commission during the Cold War. The resulting radioactive waste contaminated numerous locations in the St. Louis area, 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 that leads to a fiery terminus at a smoldering, radioactively contaminated landfill. "The First Secret City" reveals a forgotten history and its continuing impact on the community in the 21st century, uncovering past wrongdoing and documenting the continuing struggles to confront the issue.