New Documentary Chronicles New Mexico's Nuclear History

* A new documentary will debut in Taos this week that chronicles New Mexico's 60-year relationship with the nuclear weapons industry. The documentary, called Do It for Uncle Graham, was produced by Candy Jones and outlines the cultural, economic, environmental and health consequences of the nuclear weapons industry in New Mexico.

The film follows the nuclear weapons industry from the establishment of the Manhattan Project in northern New Mexico in 1943. The project, which later became Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), produced the atomic weapons that were dropped at the Trinity site near Alamogordo, New Mexico and Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan at the end of World War II.

The film's title refers to Jones' late uncle, who served as a New Mexico State Legislator during the early 20th century. Jones says that his dedication to preserving the people and culture of New Mexico inspired her to investigate the nuclear weapons industry in the state, which has a profound effect on the things that her Uncle Graham treasured most. Jones said, "It is my great hope that Do It for Uncle Graham will serve to engage, educate and entertain the public as to the vast and significant effects New Mexico's nuclear history has had, and continues to have on the world."

The film explores the Gnome and Gasbuggy projects, which were part of the initiative of the Department of Energy (DOE) to use nuclear explosions for peaceful purposes. For example, the Gasbuggy explosion, which took place in the 1960s in north central New Mexico, was DOE's attempt to extract natural gas from the earth using a nuclear explosion. The explosion irradiated the natural gas and thus it could not be used for energy purposes. Therefore, the experiment was deemed a failure.

Jones also examines current and future nuclear weapons production in New Mexico, including proposed pit production and the resumption of uranium mining in western New Mexico. Jones interviews Navajo Tribal President Joe Shirley who expresses disappointment at New Mexico's history and chastises its Congressional delegation for fostering the nuclear weapons industry in the state.

Also featured in the documentary are former Secretary of the Interior Stuart Udall, James Bearzi, of the New Mexico Environment Department, and citizens throughout New Mexico who are concerned about nuclear weapons activities and their effects. Bill Nevins, of Australia's Green Left Weekly, said of the film, "This is a detailed, humorous, frightening and infuriating film, all at once." Jones said, "It is my hope that this film will serve to empower and motivate average citizens to become engaged in the formation of our nation's nuclear policies"

The Santa Fe premiere of Do It for Uncle Graham will be a benefit for Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety on Sunday, May 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the Lensic Performing Arts Center. The film will be shown with Atomic Artist: Tony Price, a documentary about artist Tony Price who used models of nuclear weapons components to create sculpture. For ticket information, please contact the Lensic at 988-1234 or CCNS at 986-1973.

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