Final Project and Reflection: American Cold War Nuclear Sites

When I set out to accomplish this particular digital project, I was excited and a tad anxious about how the final would turn out. Having not been particularly “tech savvy”, I was excited to find that once I dove into my project, learning as I went came along with the process, and I was pleasantly surprised with my results. The idea of nuclear arms plants within the United States is a fascinating and relevant topic today. These plants were created as part of Cold War armament that dictated American policy for decades. They brought steady employment to the regions involved, built the nuclear arsenal of the United States, and were the precipice of many scientific breakthroughs in the field of nuclear physics. But they also brought countless environmental catastrophes, harmful environmental carcinogenic toxins in the air, cost billions of dollars to clean up and dispose of harmful materials, and continue to this day to have effects, both physical and on the environment, that are still unknown.

It is within this paradox that my digital project retains its relevancy. By highlighting the importance of these plants, this topic becomes educational and significant to future generations, who will in fact feel the effects that this generation does not even know about yet. Most of the plants that I have noted in my digital project are still in existence today. Although many are Superfund sites, their primary focus now is on environmental cleanup and studying the effects that the plants have on the environment and beyond. This begs the question, “is this too little, too late?” or is there serious research being done at these sites to try and find out just how much of an effect they had on the environment. As is shown through my project and poster, with only a small sampling of plants, it covers most of the continental United States. Having a digital component that places these sites in one location truly shows the extent that the Cold War created these plants that were initially designed to promote safety and security of Americans, while polluting the very world those Americans occupy. This was a fun and educational project for me, having had interest in Cold War history, specifically on nuclear arms policy. Although the interface of HistoryPin can be somewhat frustrating in what it allows me to see at once, I am pleased with the process of the project, and the final result.

Below is the link to my HistoryPin:

American Cold War Nuclear Sites

One Reply to “Final Project and Reflection: American Cold War Nuclear Sites”

  1. I always enjoy reading your writing Allison, and I really like how in-depth each pin goes in giving each plant a unique character by describing their individual histories. The many pictures within each pin really provide some visual context to the information you’re providing and makes it immensely more enjoyable to read and much more readily engageable (engage-able? engagable? Microsoft Word denies any of those are real words, but you understand the sentiment).

    My question would be: do you see this project as complete, or just the tip of a much larger undertaking? And if you were to continue the project, how would you do so? If I might humbly pitch an idea or two: if you were to expand the project, I see one of two potentially lucrative avenues. One direction would be to simply continue listing major nuclear sites in the U.S., either chronologically or by importance; while that would be an ambitious undertaking, once completed it would be an absolutely fascinating look at the extent to which nuclear plants and weapon production facilities have permeated the vast majority of the United States. An alternate idea, potentially even more ambitious, would be to look either at another continent, or even map the major nuclear sites across the globe. This would likely require a dedicated team and take a very long time, but it’s something to think about. But all in all, thumbs up!

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