Button Up
by Dr. Ronald A. Hardert
Trafford Publishing

"The irony is that, in the name of national defense, we have been poisoned by our own government."

Dr. Ronald A Hardert, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Arizona State University, here points out the potentially fatal flaws in the use of radioactive materials. Basing his case around the social power theories of Michel Foucault and others, he examines nuclear catastrophes at Chernobyl, Fernald, and Fukushima. Regarding Fernald, for example, there are eye witness accounts of uranium dust clouds reported around the Ohio nuclear weapons production facility in 1984: "I saw fumes out there so bad… birds would… fly into the fumes and fall down dead." Through these scenarios, the author demonstrates how political systems conspire to prevent ordinary people from accessing vital information. Via Foucault, he analyzes "the periphery of power structures and how day-to-day decisions are made." Nuclear operations, he asserts, are content to pay fines, because when the problems are seen as merely regulatory, further environmental investigation will be blocked.

The title of the book comes from a sign (depicted on the book's cover) near the entrance at Fernald, where a worker's death was attributed to the radioactive dust storm. Only those leaving the plant can see the sign: "Sensitive information is important—BUTTON UP." Hardert's research is extensive, with copious footnotes, two appendices, and interview excerpts. It is clear that he is guided by an overarching moral principle: to prevent further serious damage from nuclear materials everywhere. Believing there is no safe way of using such energy, and convinced that governments, including our own, are complicit in covering up the facts, his book comprises a grave warning. Button Up could serve as a practical manual for groups focused on ecology and anti-war efforts alike.

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