(In My “Neck Of The Woods”…)Study: Rocky Flats area still as contaminated with plutonium as 40 years ago
Boulder’s Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center hires contractor to test soil for plutonium
By Laura Snider
Driven by concerns that running the Jefferson Parkway across a strip of land along the eastern edge of the Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge would stir up clouds of plutonium-laden dust, Boulder’s Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center commissioned a study last fall to gauge contamination levels in the area.
The newly released results show the area is as contaminated by radioactive plutonium now as it was 40 years ago, before the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant, which operated on that site, was closed and cleaned up.
“The material is still there; it’s still on the surface,” said Marco Kaltofen, president of Boston Chemical Data Corp., the contractor hired by the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center.
Still, officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment insist the amount of plutonium contamination at the eastern edge of the site is well below levels that would be dangerous to human health.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, which manages the refuge, agreed in December to a land swap that would add 617 acres to the refuge’s southwest border in exchange for giving up a 300-foot-wide right of way along the refuge’s eastern edge, adjacent to Indiana Street. The right of way would be used to build the proposed Jefferson Parkway, which would nearly complete a beltway around the Denver metro area.
Though the land swap is now being held up by several lawsuits — including one filed by the cities of Golden and Superior, and another, filed last week, by two environmental groups — Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center officials fear that any construction in the area could be dangerous.
The center joined other concerned citizens in asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to test the soils on the strip of land that would be used for the parkway.