Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 7 No. 3 | Fall 1985 (Portland)

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Clin VOL 7, NO. 3 erly FALL 1985 STAFF vo-editors Lenny Dee David Milholland Editor on Leave Jim Blashfield Associate Editors Peggy Lindquist Paul Loeb Michael Helm Todd Oppenheimer Design and Production David Milholland Guest Designers Reed Darmon Eric Edwards Tim Braun Coverwork Sharon Niemcyzk Jim Blashfield Production Assistants Stephanie Denyer Gail O’Neill Ad Production Stacey Fletcher Joyce Fletcher Camerawork Tim Braun Laura DiTrapani Typesetting Archetype, Harrison Typesetting Lee Emmett, Marmilmar, Sherry Swain Proofreaders Steve Cackley Betty Smith Ad Sales—Oregon Dru Duniway, Sandy Wallsmith Joyce Fletcher, Lynn Wilson Ad Sales—Washington Jennifer James, Scott Wilson Doug Milholland Development Lenny Dee, Suone Cotner Mary Lou Calvin, Libby Dawson Farr Lisa Shara Interns Dan McMillan, Barbara Griswold Contributing Artists Tim Braun, C.T. Chew Stephen Leflar, Carel Moiseiwitsch Isasc Shamsud-Din, Anne Storrs C. Vuplae Printing Tualatin-Yamhill Press Thanks Jeff Bachrach, Linda Ballantine John Bennett, Bart Diener Paul Diener, Julie Draper, Dennis Eichhorn Lola Jones, Tyra Lindquist Nicole Luce, Theresa Marquez Melissa Marsland, Enrico Martignoni Laurie McClain, Kevin Mulligan Alana O’Brien, Annie Reiniger Jim Styskel, Stephanie Styskel Debra Turner, Loring Voegl Ann Vrabel, John Wanberg Elizabeth Young Oregon Historical Society Technicolor, Inc. The Clinton 500 EDITORIAL utility: useful, dependable, vital, the opposite of aesthetic. Our utilities, both public and private, have historically provided us some of the world’s most efficient delivery of telephone services, electricity and natural gas. And up until the recent WPPSS scandal and the breakup of AT&T, the Northwest region’s utilities have largely been offered at acceptable prices, compared with other parts of the country. The true costs have been much more subtle, but their long-term implications need to be examined, understood and responded to. § Since it is clearly uneconomical to run multiple power and telephone lines through the same neighborhoods and countryside, very early on the delivery of both electricity and telephone services became the fiefdoms of one or at most two companies. There were opponents to these private monopolies long before the FDR regime. They called for municipal or county control and established publicly owned telephone services and utility districts. With the New Deal, an outpouring of federal monies created hydroelectric dams throughout the Columbia/Snake River Basin. This vast resource became the Bonneville Power Administration, and given the political tenor of the times, carried a preference clause that gave distinct advantages to those areas which established PUDs. Though massive amounts of private money rose to oppose their creation, the State of Washington became home to some 30 PUDs, joining the long-standing municipal districts in both Seattle and Tacoma. In Oregon, the private interests were sucessful in limiting their number to less than 10, most in rural districts. And with the preference clause in place, Washington residents and industry paid as little as one third of Oregon’s private rates for electricity. Oregon’s PGE and PP&L have many times, as recently as 1982, fought off PUD initiatives sponsored by coalitions including Grange, labor and progressive elements. These private utilities bring three powerful elements to those struggles: 1) money, in ratios of twenty or thirty to the one raised by PUD advocates, which buys a whole lot of media; 2) political clout, developed over years of carefully orchestrated contributions to both politicians and causes at every level; and 3) public confidence in their ability to provide power dependably. And even though there is a constant undercurrent of resentment toward their price manipulation and political power, it is insufficient to withstand the barrage of resources they bring out whenever they are challenged. For years these utilities have been feathering their nest with the support of politicians of every stripe. They give freely to both hard rock conservatives and rising star liberals, with very few capable or willing to resist the utilities’ overtures. And when their survival is threatened, their resources extend to include their major suppliers and sub-contractors, literally from around the country. This year, with PUD initiatives currently in abeyance, the four major utilities, which include Northwest Natural Gas and Pacific Northwest Bell, devoted their political money to the pro-sales tax campaign, giving more than $1,000,000.00 to that hoary cause. Needless to say, the property tax saving they’d realize in less than one year would more than pay back their “investment.” Oregon’s reputation for environmental leadership and corruption-free politics unfortunately does not extend to this realm. For as long as both executive and legislative bodies consist of politicians greatly endebted to these few companies, little hope exists for a reprieve. Even the judicial branch consists of ex-politicians and appointees of utility-funded politicians. The only hope of rectifying this situation is beginning on square one. Each candidate for office should be asked the hard question, both about utility financial support received and her/his opinions on public power and curbs on the private utilities’ currently unbridled influence. Those who pass this litmus test, should be supported both financially and politically. Though the WPPSS fiasco has rightly sullied the reputation of publicly controlled utilities, over the years Washington consumers have invested billions of dollars in facilities they own and control. In contrast, most Oregon consumers have paid much higher rates and own nothing. And because the Utility Commis- ' sioner, appointed by Oregon’s governor (no recent governor, Republican or Democrat, has reached office without massive utility backing), sets the rates to guarantee profits, the utilities’ political impact is virtually guaranteed to continue. The latest episode in this sage is .most telling. In November 1984, some 638,000 Oregon voters approved the creation of a Citizen Utility Board, as a partial offset to the power of the private utilities. The CUB prepared an enclosure for insertion in the private utilities’ current billings, the key “right” supposedly guaranteed by the wording of the initiative. Several utilities challenged and Federal Judge Owen Panner declared that such an enclosure would violate the utilities’ freedom of speech. That this central right of our democracy extends to corporations is certainly debatable. But any successful challenge would be prohibitively expensive. This decision once again abrogates the power of the virtually powerless, making the CUB scramble for mere existence while the utilities pocket yet another round of guaranteed profits. Efficient, dependable delivery of TABLE OF CONTENTS 'over Steve Winkenwerder Atomic Childhood G w ion..................................... The High Cost of High Tech Lenny Siegel and John Markoff Lynn Margaret Sharon Lynn Pugh............... Ellie Manette and the Steel Drum's Freedom Song Lynn Darroch .......................... Triangle Self Help Album C.T. Chew ............................. Freedom Rising James North ............................. Should Portland Become a Nuclear Free Zone? Elinor Langer ........................... 4 8 12 18 24 29 37 Intervention in Vietnam and CentralAmerica: Parallels and Differences Noam Chomsky ........ A d Index ......................... 40 47 The Clinton St. Quarterly is published in both Oregon and Washington editions by CSQ—a project of Out of the Ashes Press. Oregon address: P.O. Box 3588, Portland, OR 97208, (503) 222 6039; Washington Address: 1520 Western Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101, (206),682 2404. Unless otherwise noted, all contents copyright© 1985, Clinton St. Quarterly. utility services, whether from a public or private firm, is the least we should expect and accept. To date, neither has failed to provide this bottom line. It is now time to begin removing the heavy foot of the private utilities from our necks. DM I t was over 2OO years ago that our Founding Fathers met in Philadelphia to lay down the principles upon which our new country would be based. If the Clinton St. Quarterly had been around then, you can bet your boots that these dedicated American patriots would have turned to it time and time again for reference and inspiration as they painstakingly worked out the ideas contained in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. OK. So they might not have had much use for “Christmas Gifts for Chickens” or the story of the woman who divorced her husband and married her bowling ball. But what about the other stuff? You know, the political stuff. They’d have read that, wouldn't they? Of course! Yeah, sure! And might they have picked up their copies of the West Coast’s favorite journal of fiction, features, political writing, humor and eyeball-snagging graphics on street corners in Seattle, Portland, Eugene and points nearby? Of course not! It would have been a long ride by horseback and canoe. Many would have died. It wouldn’t have been worth it. Instead, they’d have subscribed to the Clinton St. Quarterly and had it delivered by postal employees, many of them wearing shorts in the summer. That's how they'd have done it. Our forefathers loved America. If you love America you'll be like them and subscribe to the Clinton St. Quarterly. Four issues a year for only $6.00. Get the picture? Stop being a squalling left-wing panty- waist. Be an American. Subscribe now. Name Name Address Address Send only $6 for first subscription, $5 for each additional one to: The Clinton St. Quarterly OR For a Friend? OK. And send me a pointed hat like Paul Revere if you've got any. Do you? Or don’t you? Is this a trick? P.O. BOX3588 Portland, OR 97208 1520 Western Avenue Seattle, WA98101 Clinton St. Quarterly

We answered all their questions fully and sincerely, and even volunteered information we thought might interest them, basking in the attention of the FBI itself. No one ever pointed out that something I said might ruin a friend’s father’s career, or might lead the parents to prison and our friends to foster homes. That never happened that I know of, but I talked openly to the FBI two or three times a year for ten years without really understanding the effect it could have on other people’s lives. I was only a child. That was Idaho Falls, Idaho, headquarters for the National Reactor Testing Station, The Site, which was about fifty miles west of town on the Arco Desert. I was proud that Dad worked there, and that most of my friend’s dads did too. It was the birthplace of the USS Nautilus, or at least the atomic engine for it. With 33 “piles,” The Site was “the largest cluster of atomic reactors in The Free World.” We moved there in 1956, when I was in second grade, and I lived there until I left high school in 1967. Many years and many changes later, I heard an anti-nuclear activist speculating grimly on life in a society dominated by nuclear power. I realized that such a society already existed. I grew up in it and could tell about it firsthand. Perhaps a year ago, a friend asked about the cancer rate there. I’d never heard anything about that, and had never thought of it. A few months later Dad was diagnosed as having cancer. He died recently. That connection, and the revival of childhood memories brought about by Dad’s death, have made me think that now is the time to tell what I know. '^Lecurity As A Way of Life In our schoolbooks, fathers sometimes took their kids to where they worked—the office, the factory, the store, the station— and showed them around. Our dads couldn’t do that. Once in a while I would ask Dad about his work and he would remind me that it was secret and he couldn’t talk about it. I did know that Dad was an electrician and worked at MTR-ETR (Materials Testing Reactor-Energy Testing Reactor), a pair of reactors in the same compound. Other dads worked at places like EBR-1 (Experimental Breeder Reactor) or SL-2, which I think stood for Steam Liquid. There were occasional tours of The Site for families of employees, but we were never taken on one. My own experience of where Dad worked was a glitter of metal in the daytime and a glimmer of lights at night far across the desert on the way to Craters of the Moon. “Now right over here,” Dad would point out a stretch of desert between the highway and the distant glitter, “is where they bury stuff that’s gotten dirty.” We learned early that “dirty” meant contaminated and “hot” meant radioactive, and they weren’t the same. He had several shirts and pants, pairs of shoes, dozens of pairs of gloves, buried out there. There were tanks and huge trucks too, he said, even whole buildings. I couldn’t imagine a hole big enough to put a house in. “Couldn’t spies take pictures of The Site from here?” one of us asked once as we were passing. He assured us that guards at The Site had telescopes and were always watching the highway through them. If guards saw anyone taking pictures, they’d come out and arrest the person and get the film back. It hadn’t occurred to me before then that The Site itself would have guards like the A.E.C. (Atomic Energy Commission) Building in town. I remember the building, administrative headquarters for The Site, as a monolithic rectangle two blocks long, a block wide, and five or six stories high, light green, with small rectangular windows that glowed dull yellow and featureless at night—all of them, all the time. There were no trees or bushes nearby where someone might hide. In the middle of one long side was a glass double door, with a guard standing at each side of the door. Those guards scared me, though neither the FBI nor the police did. It wasn’t the guns: there were guns all over, and shootouts rarely even made the front page of the paper. Mom tried to comfort me: the guards were only interested in someone sneaking around or trying to That was Idaho Falls, Idaho, headquarters for the National Reactor Testing Station, The Site, which was about fifty miles west of town on the Arco Desert. I was proud that Dad worked there. With 33 “piles, ” The Site was “the largest cluster of atomic reactors in The Free World.” break into the A.E.C. Building. If they saw someone, they would shout stop, then shoot over the person’s head. Only then, if the person still didn’t stop, would they shoot to kill. It seemed too easy to find myself there by accident some night. I knew, deep down, that if I heard them shooting over my head, there was no way in the world I could stop running. The A.E.C. Building was a block from the high school and two blocks from the church, but I generally avoided walking past it, especially at night. When I was a burgeoning teenage hoodlum, and by god not afraid of nothing, I strolled past on the sidewalk one day and glanced up to see “Atomic Energy Commission” painted modestly above the door. I was never that close again. Site security had a special problem when the Idaho Territorial Centennial rolled around. Some local group decreed that all the men had to grow beards, just like in the old days. Any man caught without a beard on the streets of Idaho Falls could be “arrested” by the “posse,” taken to “court,” and “fined” a $5 contribution toward the fireworks or parade or something. It was to be a lot of fun and horsing around and a way of extracting a bit more money from the tourists on their way to or from Yellowstone. Dad started growing his beard along with all the other men. Within a week, Site security announced that all Site workers either had to shave or get new pictures for their identification cards.One friend of Dad’s got a new ID card and grew a big, black, full-faced beard, and then kept it when the Centennial was over. Everyone else shaved. It wasn’t fun anymore. I worried about Dad getting beat up for not having a beard, but the whole game died out. A few old timers grew long magnificent beards, and were admired and complimented on the street. It turned out to be one more source of bitterness between The Site and the rest of town. ywo-Tier Society rhe Atomic Energy Commission moved into Idaho Falls just after WWII, and pretty suddenly. Our development was probably housing for construction workers for The Site. It was 30-40 blocks of one-story, square, stucco houses in three alternating designs and six alternating pastel colors. By the time we got there it was pretty rundown. Our three bedroom house cost $5,000. Newer, more expensive developments adjoined ours, and that’s where most of the Site families lived. The house next door to ours was rented out to families of Navy men— every six months we’d get a new set of neighbors in from Newport News, Virginia. Many of the scientists were at The Site for a specific project, and would return to their university or research center after a year or two. The people who came to The Site were highly educated scientists, technicians and government bureaucrats. They were more mobile—socially, economically and geographically—than the locals. At the beginning of each school year, we Site kids got a special government form (printed on cards, not a mimeo). It was very, very important because the school got extra money for each of us. The public schools were excellent in math and science, even before the postSputnik push. The Science Fair was the big event of the school year. We routinely scored very high in national tests, and many graduates of the high school went to places like MIT, Berkeley and Cal Tech. Yet humanities and social sciences were on the farm town level. I was amazed later to discover that people had read Shakespeare in high school. Before The Site came, Idaho Falls was a small town river crossing and commercial center for the agricultural and ranching economy of the Upper Snake Valley. The area produces wheat, potatoes, sugar beets, cattle and sheep. I was told that Idaho Falls was not typical for a town of 40,000. Our two color television stations, classical music radio station and the symphony were products of the high education level of The Site people. The Site/non-Site split was more important than the Mormon/non-Mormon split. Idaho Falls was about seventy percent Mormon, and non-Mormons were not very successful in business and were nonexistent in politics. Site people were not involved in either. I had friends, close friends even, who were not Site kids, but there was always a distance between us. They could be smarter, stronger, faster, richer and even more ambitious than I was, but it didn’t matter. I was tied into Science and Technology, into Universities, Research and the Government. They were tied into cows and potatoes and irrigation canals, into the John Birch Society, the Mormon Church and the Chamber of Commerce. There was more chance for them to escape than for us to get bogged down, but not much. The only significant competition or association we Site kids had was with each other. Bjippopotamus ' V I n The Pigpen Idaho Falls had many elements of what I now recognize as a company-town economy. The prosperity of local businesses fluctuated according to decisions made in Washington and based on national or international political concerns. The Nixon-Kennedy campaign was my first awareness of presidential politics. The main issue nationally seemed to be Kennedy’s Catholicism. Locally, however, the important issue was cutbacks at The Site, which Kennedy threatened. Sure enough, shortly after Kennedy took office, Westinghouse was closed down, and several of my friends’ dads lost their jobs. Some had to move. The closure threw the area into an economic recession for several years. Another otherwise unaccountable economic trough was attributed to the cancellation of a top-secret atomic aircraft project. Almost all of the men worked for one of the big companies. The few who worked directly for the A.E.C. (and especially if they worked at the A.E.C. Building rather than at The Site) were a little suspect to us kids—more like umpires than real baseball players. The line between the companies and the government was always a bit hazy. The companies, such as Westinghouse or Phillips Petroleum (who signed Dad’s checks) or other government agencies, such as the Navy, had some lease or contract arrangement with the A.E.C. Workers for both public and private concerns needed government security clearances. Labor unions were outlawed at The Site, even though people were working for private corporations. The A.E.C. buses contributed to the company town feel. The men gathered on streetcorners at 6:00 to 6:30 am, waiting for the Greyhound-sized blue buses to come and get them. We often went split sessions and had to be in school at 7:00 am. One of my most vivid memories is these knots of men standing in the snow before dawn, smoking, talking softly, some reading magazines or newspapers by streetlight. The sight was both eerie and exhilarating. It reminded me of rising before dawn to watch the first Clinton St. Quarterly

I talked openly to the FBI two or three times a year for ten years without really understanding the effect it could have on other people’s lives. I was only a child. space shots and of scenes from science fiction books of secret military/scientific installations. But it also brought to mind horror movies, just before a huge beast With glaring eyes would roar out of the darkness to swallow up the unsuspecting townsfolk, or war movies showing the rough tenderness of camaraderie before a dawn raid. I would watch them from behind the bushes a block away until the bus came and took them away. The men got dropped off on the same corners between 6:00 and 6:30 pm. It meant that the men were away from home for twelve hours a day. It was not rare for the schools to close because of snow, wind or flood. But I don’t remember a single day that the A.E.C. buses didn’t run because of weather. The Arco Highway must have had top priority for snow clearance. There was a spell of much grumbling when the men had to start catching the bus half an hour earlier, and returning later, because the buses had been ordered to slow down. It seems the buses, travelling in lengthy convoys, were killing so many jackrabbits that the road was getting slippery and dangerous. The concern was for the buses, not for other vehicles. Gradually the speeds crept up, and in a few months the times were back to normal. Maybe the jackrabbit season was over. There may have been a hundred buses, maybe two hundred, parked nights and weekends behind a link fence across the street from our church. For an hour in the morning and evening, they dominated the town. Not just the thoroughfares were affected, for at least one bus from each compound had to stop within a couple blocks of every house in town. During split sessions, with school buses competing for space, there wasn’t much room for anything else. ^^ytomic War The men all being two hours from their families made our war preparedness complicated. We knew war would come and we knew we would be in the thick of it. We were resigned to the possibility of being separated from our fathers for the whole six weeks (or whatever it was) until it was safe to come out of the shelters. Mom once carefully explained that because there was no actual production of weapons at The Site, it wouldn’t be a first- strike target. In fact, the Russians would try to protect the facilities for their own use once they took over. She had spent a long time working that out; I didn’t believe it any more than she did. We never spoke of Our Side destroying The Site to keep it out of the hands of the Russians. A neighbor boy (he was a Mormon, one of thirteen kids—an uncle when he was born) once gleefully told me that the per- capita alcohol consumption of Idaho Falls was second highest in the country, after Las Vegas. I wasn’t old enough to question his information, and began speculating at once that it was because life was so boring out here in the sticks. The reason, he said, was that the Site workers knew they were helping to bring about an atomic war, and felt so guilty about it, and couldn’t talk to anyone about it because it was secret, that they had to get drunk every night. I’d never heard such a notion before. How could these great heroes of Science, of America, feel anything but pride in the wonderful work they were doing? How was it possible to feel guilt at doing good? The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized it was an attack on The Site by The Town, and felt compelled to defend us against the slur. For a few days I watched the faces of the men as they got off the bus, when we visited or they visited, as they sat in church. I watched Dad’s face, especially when he was drinking (he’d been an alcoholic as far back as I could remember). I began to see a weight of sadness in their cheekbones, a flash of terror in their eyes, a quiver of helplessness on their lips. I made a deliberate decision to stop watching before I saw any more. If these men were criminals against peace, against humanity, maybe even against God, I didn’t want to know about it. There was nothing I could do anyway. Over the next year or two I shifted my projected career from physics to writing, perhaps partly to avoid wrestling with that moral question. If that neighbor kid set out to convert me that day, he may have succeeded far better than either of us knew. yast Exit £ To Montana ^Jome years before that, our war con- sciousness nearly led us in a completely different direction. Our family took up with a peculiar family. Like us they had five kids—too many to be scientists, too few to be Mormons. Dad seems to have met the man in a bar. They had only recently come to town, and obviously weren’t intending to stay long: the man didn’t work, the kids didn’t go to school. They lived almost without furniture in a ramshackle house behind the Coca Cola bottling plant. We spent a lot of time with them, the adults drinking beer and talking intently for hours, their kids introducing us to mischievous freedoms we’d never imagined and parts of our hometown we’d never seen. As the relationship diverged more and more from our usual pattern of family friendships, Mom sat us kids down one day and explained. She spoke softly, almost whispering at times, but with determination. We knew she was purposely violating security and were awed into paying total attention. These people were part of a group that had bought (or planned to buy) a remote valley in Montana, where they could live almost entirely cut off from the rest of the world. Security would be even tighter than at The Site. No one would know their exact location. No one would be able to betray them when the Russians came. We kids didn’t think to ask about the political or religious origins of the group. They were in Idaho Falls recruiting, and they wanted us to join them. Particularly they wanted Dad, not only to dotheir electrical work, but also to design and build an electronic security system. Dad was a good prospect: a poor, uneducated social misfit with no strong political or religious commitments. Though still paid and treated as a maintenance electrician, Dad had by that time been relieved of his ordinary duties and spent his work time designing electronic circuits for toplevel scientists when the official electronic engineers couldn’t meet their requirements. I don’t know if this man ran into Dad by accident, or heard about him and made a point of meeting him. We kids were excited. It was science fiction come true: living deep in a forest threaded with electronic sensing devices, building log cabins with secret underground chambers, riding horses to the hidden helicopter pad. Of course we’d have a reactor to generate our electricity. And there would be no more interminable classes run by boring tyrants. We were severely warned not to speak of any of this to anyone, not even to hint at it to our best friends. We didn’t. We knew about security. As plans developed further, Mom finally took her stand. She had grown up on farms, left the moment she could, and would under no circumstances go back to one. I’m sure there were other reasons as well, but the safest one was enough. I held a long bitterness against her for denying us the paradise I thought we had almost found. I surprise myself by wishing even now that we had gone: heaven or hell, what an adventure we missed! The family vanished soon thereafter. I don’t think we ever heard from them again. The attraction of the scheme had nothing to do with fear of the Russians. I knew, as everyone knew, that atomic war would come someday. But we—Site people and their families—worked and lived around radiation all the time, and so were not easily spooked by the thought of it. We also had great faith that the government/ corporate organization we were part of would take care of us. I either imagined or was told that there were secret shelters reserved for Site people. When the time came, we would be told where to go, or picked up at home, or plucked out of our classrooms if necessary. War was inevitable. There was no point in being terrified of it. Some of my friends would get killed. But a war would kill more people I didn’t like than than people I did. Our house would get blown up, but I didn’t like it anyway. And a war would certainly break up those long monotonous days of school. ^yveryday Strange ^^Occurrences Living near The Site heightened some events and subdued others, most often twisting them into a different significance than they might otherwise have had. UFO sightings are a good example. Very late one night, Mom and Dad were sitting watching television. Suddenly a huge orange fireball flashed by the window. They both hit the floor, certain that a burning airplane was about to crash in the street in front of the house. It didn’t happen. They rushed out to find nothing more than the strong smell of ozone. It was a topic of family conversation for a couple days, and Dad may have talked to his colleagues about it. If it was connected to The Site, the less said about it, the better. It was just another curious, unexplained event, like the many others Dad had seen. A more serious sighting occurred one night when Mom happened to be driving home from Pocatello, fifty miles to the south. A UFO flared through the sky and disappeared (from Mom’s sight anyway) behind The Buttes, which rise abruptly out of the desert. There was a crash this time, and hundreds of people had seen the object. By daybreak, the whole area was sealed off by soldiers. I was in high school then, involved in a secret society of peers—an elitist group which broke through the Site/non-Site barrier—that was bonded by our mutual teen-aged cynicism. We first predicted, then observed, the standard government procedure of releasing vague and conflicting reports for several days until everyone had evidence to prove their own theory and disprove all the others. The common UFO theories had their adherents of course: meteor, atmospheric phenomenon, alien spacecraft, omen of the Second Coming, etc. But The Site figured into the two most popular theories. Many people thought it was an attempted attack by the Russians. But most people assumed it was a Site experiment that had gone awry, and knew that no more information would be forthcoming. When none was, they claimed the theory proven. The investigation was entirely in the hands of the federal government. After a few days, the soldiers slipped quietly back to wherever it was they had appeared from so quickly. Our secret society considered an expedition out to the crash area, but decided against it for three reasons: 1) About 100 square miles had been sealed off, and the specific location had never been pinpointed. It could be a long search. 2) If there was still (or ever had been) anything interesting to find, the government wouldn’t have pulled the troops out. 3) They were probably still watching the area, and if we got picked up our own secrecy—sufficient against teachers, principals, local police, parents and schoolmates—wouldn’t stand up long under FBI questioning. It wasn’t as though accidents had never happened before. Usually our first indication of a radiation leak was when someone on the block started hosing down the driveway and sidewalk. That was the signal for one of us kids to do the same to ours while Mom called a few friends and spread the word that radioactive fallout was coming down. Every once in a while it was Dad who called in from The Site to say, “I was just thinking it might be a good day to wash the driveway.” There was some prestige in being the first one on the block to wash down the driveway. • As I got older, I began to realize how ludicrous it was. “What about the grass?” I asked once. “We’d wash it off if we could,” Mom replied ruefully. I never thought to ask about the roof or the street. But I never stopped doing it. It had all the trappings of propitiatory magic, as mundane yet important a superstition as prayers before bed or not stepping on the cracks I don’t remember how often that happened. We didn’t mention it at school, partly because it was too common to be interesting, partly because of security. If neighbors asked why we were doing it, 6 Clinton St. Quarterly

we didn’t tell them. Site families should know, and non-Site families shouldn’t. Many of them caught on and hosed down their driveways and sidewalks too. One day I was given the chore of hosing down the driveway to remove oil from our leaky car. Within a few minutes, half a dozen driveways on the block were being hosed down. As I worked, I debated whether to tell them or to go through the whole ritual so as not to raise their ire. Then I realized that a call might have come in at the same time I happened to be washing the oil off. I did the whole thing. ^ L -7 T”he big one, of course, they couldn’t keep quiet. I don’t remember how I got the news. The earliest I remember, the whole town was in a buzz. SL-1 had blown up. People had died. Official assurances started coming in early. The explosion was over and there was no chance of another one. There was no danger. The inner shell around the reactor was broken, but the outer shell was intact. No radiation had escaped into the air, and none would. This was proof of the safety of their work. They were proud of their system, proud of the brave men who worked at The Site, and most of all, proud of the citizens of Idaho, who stood by them in what turned out not to be an emergency after all. They might have been able to downplay the affair and bury it in technical garble within a few days, except for the problem of the missing body. Three people had been working on the pile at the time it went up, but only two bodies had been found. A family friend who lived across the street was on the rescue team, and was the first one into the compound after the explosion. Hadn’t he looked around for the third body? “No,” he grinned. He was a quiet, modest man, considerably embarrassed by his new hero status. He made light of the whole affair to us neighborhood kids. “ No, I just ran in, grabbed the first body I saw, and ran out as fast as I could.” There hadn’t been time to put on a radiation suit. He knew when he took the job there might not be. He shrugged and said that at that level of radiation, it wouldn’t have helped anyway. In the three seconds he was in the compound, he got well over his lifetime quota of radiation exposure. He was immediately transferred to A.E.C. Headquarters in town so he wouldn’t be exposed to any more. Later he was transferred to Washington D.C., because even Idaho Falls was too hot. The high radiation level continued to hamper the search for the missing body. It would be years before people could go in, even with the heaviest radiation suits. They pushed television cameras in again and again for several days, and could find no body. Meanwhile, they said, they were getting a lot of valuable information on the blast itself and the effects it had on various.materials and instruments. I was told at the time that the local media were being cut off from the main news sources. All the interviews, press conferences, off-the-record background talks and hints from “informed sources” were going to the news syndicates and the networks. Local reporters could interview peripheral people, maybe even the widows. But no one with hard information was available. That didn’t matter much to us. The local media were put out by and for the townsfolk. We Site people cared more what the people in Washington were telling the nation about us than what a small time TV station was telling our neighbors. And our real information came through our regular sources, the men who worked at The Site. So while the official investigation took weeks to reach a verdict of “operator error,” we knew within a day or two how it had happened. One of the three men was always bragging about his strength. Several times people had seen him showing W e learned early that “dirty” meant contaminated and “hot” meant radioactive, and they weren’t the same. Dad had several shirts and pants, pairs of shoes, dozens of pairs of gloves, buried out there. off by standing on top of the pile and lowering the damping rod into the core by hand (rather than by whatever mechanical device was generally used). Most likely, he was doing his little stunt again and got the rod jammed in its sleeve. Without the damping rod to absorb radiation, the reactor had gone critical in a few seconds. Maybe that’s why they finally thought to tilt the camera up, and found the third Continued on Page 35 Visit BridgePort Public Tap Room open in September! Columbia River Brewery is the first operating microbrewery in Portland in 60 years. Our 20 barrel brewhouse and public tap room are located in Portland’s oldest industrial building. 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THE HIGH COST OF HIGH TECH The 1111^^ Dark Side of the Chip (A Selection) By Lenny Siegel and John Markoff Drawing by Tim Braun The belt of industrial communities at the southern edge of the San Francisco Bay universally symbolizes the promise of the microelectronics era. It was first called Silicon Valley in the early 1970s, when manufacturers of silicon chips became the Santa Clara Valley’s major employers. The Valley is home to the greatest concentration of high-tech professionals and enterprises in the world. It is a land where the information-rich, particularly those trained in science and technology, can make both their mark and their millions. Though Silicon Valley is in many ways unique, planners, officials, and commercial interests throughout the country see the area as a model for industrial growth in the information age. While few other areas can hope to rival the Valley, many have already attracted their share of high-tech facilities. As high tech grows, they will learn the harsh truth behind the legends of Silicon Valley. Many of the Valley’s problems are directly caused by high tech. Others are found elsewhere, but they are significant merely because the residents of would- be Silicon Valleys have been told that the electronics industry has no serious problems. If they study the lessons of the Valley, they can avoid many of the pitfalls of high-tech growth. MI V laria,” a 26-year-old political refugee from Argentina, found work in Silicon Valley, but she did not strike gold. She quit her $4.10 an hour production job at Memorex to have her first baby. For two years, she illegally stuffed and soldered thousands of printed circuit (PC) boards in her home. Her employer, a middle-aged woman she calls “Lady,” subcontracted assembly work from big firms—so Maria was told—like Apple and Memorex. Maria gladly accepted the low piece- rate work because child care would have 8 Clinton St. Quarterly eaten up most of her after-tax earnings at a full-time job. She quit, however, when Lady asked her to wash her assembled boards by dipping them into a panful of- solvent, heated on her kitchen stove. Maria, unlike most Silicon Valley cottage workers, had studied chemistry before immigrating into the U.S., and she knew that the hydrocarbon fumes could make her young son, crawling around on the kitchen floor, seriously ill. Lady contracts with about a hundred minority women, primarily immigrants and refugees from Latin America, Korea, and Indochina. Although semiconductor chips are fabricated with precise machinery in super-clean rooms, they can be attached by hand, anywhere, to the printed circuit boards that form the heart of most computer equipment. Silicon Valley’s workforce is sharply stratified. In the electronics industry, pay, status, and responsibility are primarily a function of education. The professionals who make the Valley unique sit at the top of the occupational ladder; they are paid well, and the ambitious among them can make millions. Most are white men, but Japanese-Americans and ethnic Chinese are over-represented as well. The world of Silicon Valley’s managers and professionals is centered in northern Santa Clara County, near Stanford University and the historical center of the Valley’s high-tech industry. Unlike the white-collar workers who commute to America’s established downtown areas, Silicon Valley’s affluent have chosen to live near their place of work. Other new, high-tech centers appear to be developing along a remarkably similar pattern. Since Stanford University established its Industrial Park in 1951, high-tech companies have clustered near the university. The Industrial Park, on Stanford- owned land just a mile from the academic campus, established standards for industrial development in Silicon Valley, and it is still considered a model throughout North America. For three decades, its low-slung buildings, innovative architecture, and expanses of green landscape perpetuated the belief that high tech was a clean industry and a good neighbor. The suburbs around Stanford have long been known for their attractive living environment and good schools; and commuting, even before the 1973 rise in oil prices, was uncomfortable, costly, and time-consuming. So professional workers generally bought homes or rented as close to work as possible. As the Valley boomed, its industrial core spread, but until the 1980s this core was for the most part confined to the northern, suburban portion. Like their predecessors, the engineers, scientists, and managers who came to the Valley from all over the world settled near their jobs. This influx of high-income families drove up the cost of housing. By the

1970s, rents and prices in the Valley were among the highest in the nation. By and large, the unemployed, the service workers, and the Valley’s low-paid production workers—who have always earned a fraction of the professionals’ salaries—were driven from the centers of employment. San Jose, the county's traditional urban center and home to half its residents, became a bedroom community for the production workforce. Palo Alto, which receives property and sales tax revenues from the Stanford Industrial Park, easily provides municipal services to its relatively affluent citizens. San Jose, on the other hand, has a much smaller tax base from which it must serve the county’s poorer residents. Production workers from San Jose spend their days in the north county, generating wealth for electronics companies to pay into suburban treasuries. They then return to homes protected bt San Jose’s underfunded police and fire departments and streets poorly maintained by its public works department. Nowhere are the two worlds of Silicon Valley further apart than in education. Palo Alto’s public school system is considered among the best in the nation. In fact, that is a major reason why high-tech professionals move to the area. In 1983, however, the San Jose Unified School District, the largest of several districts in the city, became the first American school system since 1943 to declare bankruptcy. Despite the protective clothing, equipment, and vents found St a typical semiconductor plant, in the pressure to meet production quotas many Silicon Valley workers are frequently exposed to hazardous liquids and fumes. A#%few years back, several women on the morning shift at Verbatim, a Silicon Valley manufacturer of memory disks for computers, complained of dizziness, shortness of breath, and weakness. Some even reported seeing a haze in the factory air. More than 100 people were quickly evacuated from the building, and the company sent 35 of them to a nearby industrial clinic. Hours later, inspectors from the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration could not find fumes intense enough to explain the complaints, and they termed the episode “mass psychogenic illness,” also known as assembly-line hysteria. In the stressful world of high-volume electronics assembly, mass hysteria is not unknown. But chances are high that the Verbatim workers’ bodies had detected the presence of toxic chemicals at a level below the threshhold recognized by health officials. High-tech industry’s environmentally controlled “clean rooms,” in which electronics workers must wear surgical gowns and gloves, are not designed to protect the workers; they are built to protect microelectronic products against particulate contamination. Despite the protective clothing, equipment, and vents found at a typical semiconductor plant, in the pressure to meet production quotas many Silicon Valley workers are frequently exposed to hazardous liquids and fumes. The hazardous materials used in semiconductor production include acids, cyanide compounds, organic solvents, and silicon tetrachloride, which turns tnto hydrochloric acid when its fumes are inhaled into the lungs. Arsine gas, a lethal form of arsenic, can cause serious damage to the liver, heart, and blood cells, even when inhaled in small quantities. It has been used extensively for years in the production of silicon chips. Now, as the Pentagon is promoting the development and production of chips based upon gallium arsenide instead of silicon, the likelihood of workers being exposed to arsenic is growing. The manufacture of chips, printed circuit boards, and other high-tech products uses some of the most dangerous materials known to humanity. And the accidental release of those toxins into the air, the ground, and bodies of water poses a significant threat to public health. It is possible that communities and regions which study the lessons of Silicon Valley can substantially reduce the risk high-tech production poses to the environment and public health. Unfortunately, high tech’s environmental record has not leaked out to the rest of the country. Officials who promote high tech as a solution to local or regional economic ills paint a picture of the industry as shiny as the surface of a silicon wafer. They call high tech a “sunrise industry,” clean and light in contrast to “smokestack” industries like steel and auto production, known for their drab, monstrous factories and ever present plumes of vapor and smoke. It isn’t hard to see where high tech got its reputation. Electronic products— chips, computers, switchboards, and so on—don’t breathe exhaust or drip oil. The factories are rambling, well-landscaped buildings, resembling modern college libraries; no smokestacks protrude above their facades. Many production steps take place in so-called clean rooms, where the air is fanatically filtered and production workers wear surgical gowns. But the industry’s vast investment in cleanliness is designed principally to protect microelectronic components from the dust particles that could prevent them from functioning properly. It does not protect high-tech’s workers nor the residents who live in the communities that surround the plants, from the toxic chemicals and metals essential to high- tech manufacturing. One of the greatest ironies of microelectronics technology is that the transformation of America into an information society relies, at its core, upon a technology from the industrial era: chemical processing. The manufacture of chips, printed circuit boards, magnetic media, and other high-tech products uses some of the most dangerous materials known to humanity. And the accidental release of those toxins into the air, the ground, and bodies of water poses a significant threat to public health. High-tech pollution is a fact of life wherever the industry has operated for any length of time, from Malaysia to Massachusetts. Yet nowhere has the growing threat that electronics production poses to public health been clearer than in Silicon Valley, where the concentration of high-tech production has greatly magnified the industry’s environmental problems. The hazards of high tech have become increasingly clear during the past few years, but it may be decades before the full impact on public health is known. The electronics industry uses thousands of different toxic materials, yet the volume is small compared to chemical-intensive industries such as petroleum and pesticide production. Still, a Bhopal-like incident, in which hundreds of people are killed immediately from a single leak, is a serious possibility. Even without such a catastrophic accident, however, the long-term toll from high-tech pollution may be enormous. High-tech toxics have been slowly entering the environment of Silicon Valley for decades. Though widely used chemicals such as hydrocarbon solvents are known to cause ailments ranging from headaches and birth defects to cancer, it is difficult to demonstrate that any particular person is a victim of a particular leak or spill. But there is no doubt that industrial chemicals are affecting the health of growing numbers of people. s ^an Jose attorney Amanda Hawes is one of a handful of Silicon Valley activists who warned for years that high tech was indeed a hazardous industry. She has built up her reputation by representing electronics workers injured by chemicals on the job. Today she also represents residents of the Los Paseos neighborhood in southern San Jose. A new, comfortable, working-class suburb typical of Silicon Valley, Los Paseos is distinguished by the presence of a chip manufacturing factory built by Fairchild Semiconductor in 1975. Hawes carries with her a large zoning map of the area surrounding the Fairchild plant. On every block in the surrounding neighborhood there are several colored pins and flags. Each triangular red flag represents a child born with heart anomalies; each blue pin marks a miscarriage; each yellow flag signals a cancer case. Black flags, superimposed on the other markers, note recent deaths. Hawes also carries with her a supply of pins, and she must frequently add one to the display. She charges that Fairchild is responsible for the area’s high incidence of disease. Most of Hawes’s clients believed that electronics was a pollution-free industry until January 1982. At that time, officials disclosed that six weeks earlier they had shut down a drinking water well operated by the Great Oaks Water Co., just 2,000 feet from an underground chemical storage tank at Fairchild. Solvents from the tank, including suspected carcinogens trichloroethane and dichloroethylene, had entered the water supply. When residents learned of the leak, they quickly concluded that the company was to blame for the area’s alarmingly high incidence of birth defects and miscarriages. Since then, Fairchild has spent at least $15 million to reduce the concentration of solvents in the aquifer, but the water will never be as clean as it was before Fairchild set up shop there. Now the factory stands empty, a monument to the dying myth of high tech as a clean, light industry. The Fairchild leak exploded onto the local front pages and six o’clock news, breaking through a long-standing barrier of silence on high-tech pollution. The Bay Area press, public officials, and electronics corporations themselves have all been forced to investigate environmental hazards that nobody wanted to believe existed. Today, scarcely a week passes without the revelation of a new leaking storage tank, poisoned well, or pollution law violation. As soon as the extent of the Fairchild leak was known, other companies started to test the ground water around their underground chemical tanks, and the Bay Area’s Regional Water Quality Control Board ordered a comprehensive testing program. Most of the Valley’s large production sites were checked— and most came up dirty. Even firms with a reputation for environmental concern, like Hewlett-Packard, had been leaking dangerous toxics used in their manufacturing processes. Leaks were found at scores of industrial locations within Santa Clara County, but many small facilities have still not been tested. Nineteen high-tech sites have been placed on the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Superfund” list. Nine public and more than sixty private wells have been shut down; many others contain legally allowed levels of contamination. Luckily, Silicon Valley residents have thus far been spared an outright environmental disaster. The Valley’s largest source of drinking water is protected by a 200-foot layer of clay, which separates polluted ground water from deep aquifers. Though Fairchild and nearby IBM began the task of clean-up soon after pollution from their facilities was discovered, many Valley electronics firms have not done much more than sink test wells to determine the extent of their leaks. Pools of hazardous chemicals drift around underground, poisoning shallow private wells and possibly finding a route—for example, via an abandoned agricultural well—to the public water supply. Unless the toxic chemicals are removed or neutralized before they percolate through the clay, the primary water supply of several hundred thousand people will be permanently poisoned. Silicon Valley is sitting on a toxic time bomb. No one knows when it is set to go off; certainly, not enough is being done to defuse it. Lenny Siegel is Director of the Pacific Study Center in Mountainview, California. John Markoff is currently technology writer at the San Francisco Examiner. The High Cost of High Tech will be available in November from Harper and Row. Tim Braun is an artist living in Portland. Clinton St. Quarterly 9