On Jan. 3, 1961 a reactor at an Idaho testing station (SL-1) blew up, killing three operators immediately and spewing out radiation that left nearly 800 people exposed to future "radiation sickness." In 1981 when this documentary was filmed, several of those people had already contracted lung, throat, and colon cancers. Intensive investigation of the explosion leaned toward the explanation that one of the three men who died in the blast lifted out an 80-pound rod (the cause of the explosion) in a tragic suicide. That particular worker was suffering from marriage problems, it was discovered, that may have occasioned a deep-rooted depression. Whether that is true or not, this documentary will always be contemporary in that it raises life-and-death issues about nuclear safety. Interviews with scientists, archival film, and contemporary footage, along with slow-motion sequences, combine to create a chilling realism.
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