Emily Strasser is a writer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her work has appeared in Catapult, Ploughshares, Guernica, Colorado Review, The New York Times, The Bitter Southerner, The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, and Tricycle, among others, and she was the presenter of the BBC podcast “The Bomb.” She is also working on a book about the intersection of family and national secrets in the nuclear city of Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
To give some background, Oak Ridge was established in 1942 as a production site for the Manhattan Project—the massive American, British, and Canadian operation that developed the atomic bomb. It’s the site of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Y-12 National Security Complex, scientific and technological development and still plays a crucial role in the city's economy and culture in general. The location and low population also helped keep the town a secret, though the settlement's population grew from about 3,000-3,750 in 1942 to about 75,000 by 1945.
At the same time, the government is still cleaning up from the sites’ historic roles. In 1989, the Environmental Protection Agency designated the Oak Ridge Reservation as a Superfund site.
With Emily, we discuss the history of the nuclear age with Leo Szilard and her grandfather who worked at Y-12, what secrecy means to her within the nuclear industry, how Oak Ridge became a Superfund site and what their clean up process, and what motivated her to write her book.
Contact and connect with Emily: http://emilystrasser.com
BBC podcast The Bomb: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-bomb/id1524778767
Oak Ridge History and Clean Up: https://www.wbir.com/article/news/local/oak-ridge-a-look-into-the-superfund-sites-environmental-cleanup/51-552401280
Leo Szilard: https://www.atomicheritage.org/profile/leo-szilard https://www.atomicarchive.com/resources/biographies/szilard.html