About the film



HALF-LIFE OF MEMORY exposes the incredible true story of a top-secret ATOMIC bomb factory in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado.

The Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant produced an estimated 70,000 atomic bombs for the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Fires, leaks, and illegally dumped wastes over the course of forty years contaminated the Denver area with radioactive and toxic substances. 

A decade-long activist campaign, capped by an unprecedented FBI raid, shuttered the bomb factory. Now, “The Most Dangerous Buildings In America” are buried under 6 feet of soil, but the area is still highly contaminated and amazingly few people know the nuke plant ever existed.


A GRIM horror lurks within America's newest national wildlife refuge. Six feet below the beautiful Rocky Mountain foothills lies the contaminated remains of America's most notorious bomb factory.

Rocky Flats and the surrounding area was found to be contaminated with some of the highest levels of radioactive plutonium contamination in the world. The extraordinary FBI and EPA raid forever halted nuclear production at Rocky Flats, in 1989. The bomb plant was eventually shut down and a questionable 10-year, billion-dollar, cleanup concluded in 2005.

Local citizens were unaware of the bomb plant and the hazards it posed until a major plutonium fire in 1969 sent a visible plume of smoke across the Denver Metro Area. After the fire, independent scientists found some of the highest levels of radioactive plutonium in the world in downwind communities. After countless denials by the government and its private contractor, hundreds of radioactive accidents were eventually exposed to the public. 

News of widespread contamination fueled protests that attracted thousands of protesters to Rocky Flats. In 1978, activists blockaded the railroad tracks leading to Rocky Flats in an attempt to halt nuclear bomb production. The railroad occupation lasted for over a year, and brought wide attention to Rocky Flats and the U.S nuclear complex. Rocky Flats activism continued to grow for over a decade and the protests helped to catalyze the international anti-nuclear movement of the 1980s. 

In 1989, the FBI and EPA raided the nuclear weapons plant. The extrordinary raid was the first and only time the FBI has raided another government agency. The raid exposed a history of mass pollution, coverups, and illegal dumping of nuclear waste.

The lead FBI agent was ordered to lie to Congress about his criminal findings and a special federal grand jury was sidelined when they sought prosecution against the plant operators. A congressional report later found that the Department of Justice covered up the criminal activities that took place at Rocky Flats. Bomb production was forever halted at Rocky Flats after the raid and a 10-year, multi-billion-dollar cleanup was declared complete in 2005. 

Today, there is no visible trace of the former plant, and we still don’t know the full truth about past nuclear accidents or the ongoing risk to residents. Large housing developments are being built on land known to be contaminated with radioactivity. Hikers traverse soil that environmental groups say is still dangerously radioactive. State and federal officials tout the area’s safety but many citizens—including former workers, a former FBI agent, and a county health chief—disagree.

Thousands of former Rocky Flats workers have fallen ill from radiation contamination, and community members are currently working to uncover a possible link to illness in the surrounding neighborhoods. The long-term consequences of Rocky Flats on the Denver area is unknown, and decades of negligence and coverups by state and federal officials have left citizens questioning their safety.


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The U.S. production of nuclear weapons has left a lingering legacy of contaminated lands and peoples. Over 300 facilities across the nation have contributed to building the United States' nuclear arsenal. Accidents have plagued the weapons complex, leaving workers, nearby residents, and the surrounding environments, contaminated with long-lived radioactive and hazardous wastes.

“Plutonium has a half-life of 24,000 years. The half-life of memory, by contrast, is a much briefer thing. The contamination at Rocky Flats will long outlive our efforts to control or even remember it.” -Hannah Nordhaus

America's nuclear past is a distant memory, but the threat of nuclear war is on the rise again. Growing tensions between nuclear nations have many people fearing that we’re at the beginning of a new Cold War. The events that have taken place at Rocky Flats, and across the nuclear weapons complex, demonstrate that it is up to us as citizens to remember and prevent these grievous mistakes from occurring again.


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Half-Life of Memory