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The Atomic States of America (2012)

A documentary on growing up in Shirley, Long Island -- a nuclear-reactor community.


(based on the book by)

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2 nominations. See more awards »


Credited cast:
Michelle Catts ...
Kelly McMasters ...


In 2010, the United States announced the first new nuclear power plant construction in over 32 years. The 'Nuclear Renaissance' was born, and America's long-stalled expansion of nuclear energy was infused with new life. On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit Japan and caused chaos at the Fukushima Power Plant. That accident sent ripples all the way to the US and suddenly the fierce debate over the safety and viability of nuclear power was back in the public consciousness. Our documentary takes the viewer on a journey to reactor communities around the country. This film exposes the truths and myths of nuclear power, and poses the question of whether or not man can responsibly split the atom. Written by Anonymous

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25 March 2014 (Netherlands)  »

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A Good Documentary for Understanding the Context of the Debate over Nuclear Power
10 September 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This documentary works from a book, Kelly McMasters's Welcome to Shirley, in which the author investigates the reasons for the high cancer rates suffered by residents of the town that she grew up in. The film's scope moves beyond the town of Shirley to investigate the history of nuclear power in the United States, the relationship between federal government and the industry, and promulgation of nuclear power as "green" energy. While all of these chapters are useful, the most pressing message of the film seems to be the need for citizens to work together for the benefit or health of their community rather than entrusting their welfare to government. The extent to which this is decisive in the debate over nuclear power is unclear; however, the film is convincing in its effort to demonstrate that citizens cannot abdicate responsibility for their own welfare and that a well-informed citizenry is both possible and necessary.

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