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Documentary tells story of communities lost

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AIKEN --- It was 1951. The war in Europe and the Pacific had been over for six years, but another war was brewing, one of opposing ideologies.

Russia and the United States stood toe to toe with a growing arsenal of weapons at their backs, daring the other to blink.

Caught in the middle of the struggle were about 5,000 residents of several small towns in Aiken County, who, in the name of national defense, were forced to abandon their communities and the land their families had lived on for generations.

As the Cold War made its way to Aiken County, the federal government confiscated land and displaced whole towns to build one of the largest nuclear-weapons facilities in the world.

Local filmmaker Mark Albertin hopes to share that era with the world in his documentary Displaced -- The Unexpected Fallout from the Cold War.

"It's a story that needs to be told," he said.

Mr. Albertin said he got the idea for the film in 2005, while working on another project about Aiken County.

Cloistered inside a library, poring over old books and periodicals, the filmmaker came across references to Ellenton and Dunbarton, towns that no longer existed.

Intrigued, he did some more digging and realized he had the makings of another film.

For three years, the owner of Scapbook Video Productions in Augusta spent his weekends and vacations tracking down and interviewing more than 40 former residents of the towns that were demolished to make way for Savannah River Plant, now Savannah River Site.

Mr. Albertin said many of the people displaced were upset about the way the federal government handled the whole affair.

"They weren't really given a choice," he said. "If someone refused to leave, the government would just declare their home condemned."

But many residents, Mr. Albertin said, viewed their sacrifice as an act of patriotism -- something they could do to help the country win the Cold War.

The premiere of the 90-minute documentary will take place March 20 at 7:30 p.m. at the University of South Carolina Aiken's Etherredge Center.

Reach Michelle Guffey at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or michelle.guffey@augustachronicle.com.

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SCEagle Eye
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SCEagle Eye 03/01/09 - 09:54 am
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Good that part of this story

Good that part of this story is being told. Those that sacrificed their homes on the altar of the cold war deserve recognition. Too bad that leaders in various nations were not able to honor that sacrifice and halt a mad nuclear arms race that has resulted in an enduring legacy of nuclear waste and wasteful spending. The dream of closing the Savannah River Site, without new, wasteful projects being pursued, remains a dream in spite of efforts by special interests to again fleece the taxpayers.

americanveteran
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americanveteran 03/04/09 - 09:10 am
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Good to hear about someone

Good to hear about someone writing a story about this place. Even though the site has been reduced to hardly nothing as far as what it produces anymore, the vast amount of land at the SRS could be used to build ten or twenty coal refineries so that this country could be free from foreign oil. Now before all the "tree huggers" state that this would cause global warming, the technology is there to take out 98.9% of all harmful emmissions. We have more coal in this country that Saudi Arabia has oil and it can be produced for around 4138.00 to $140.00 a barrel. We could put one hundred thousand Americans to work, keep all of this money in the USA and be free of foreign oil in ten years. The plans have already been drawn up and sent to congress, who have sat on them for the past three years, which is typical for our congress. We could get the price of gas back down to around $1.25 a gallon or less.
This can be done, we just need to stay on our politicians in Washington, DC to insure that they get off their dead butts and do something. SC and GA could put thousands of people to work and the money generated would help the economy in both states. But wait, that would make sense

CC resident
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CC resident 03/17/09 - 07:16 pm
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Is there a chance that this

Is there a chance that this documentary will ever be on PBS? That's the only way I'll ever get to see it. And I would like to see it!

MtnMan
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MtnMan 03/19/09 - 11:42 pm
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My Father was born in

My Father was born in Ellenton....the orginal one...

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