Candelas, one of Colorado’s largest new suburban developments, is part of an alarming trend of forgetting about its neighbor, Rocky Flats– a former Nuclear Weapons Plant & now an active DOE managed Superfund site. When the Rocky Flats weapons plant was in operation, it built plutonium triggers or ‘pits’ for over 70,000 nuclear bombs.
The area in and around the former Nuclear Weapons Plant site has been contaminated with plutonium, uranium, americium, beryllium, and, according to the Department of Labor, over 1,000 other carcinogenic chemicals.
Formerly part of a protective no-build zone, the Candelas development has already begun construction and selling homes while a toll-road is slated to be built through Candelas and then over Rocky Flats. There are also beginning plans for a visitor center on the former buffer zone, now wildlife refuge, surrounding the active Nuclear Waste Superfund site at the center.
We believe Rocky Flats needs to be remembered for what it is with plant workers recognized as the veterans they are. The “wildlife refuge” designation needs to be immediately stripped and NOT opened to the public. We believe the site should be memorialized, calling on artists to help us build permanent structures that speak to the site’s past much the way other historical tragedies are memorialized. A memorial could also commemorate the workers and neighbors who have been deeply impacted by the legacy of the site.
Optimally, an institution would be created to oversee Rocky Flats and ensure its troubled history is remembered. Particularly in times of natural disasters, we believe someone should be watching Rocky Flats and mediating natural disasters as they arise. Originally we were concerned about the very likely scenario of drought and dust-bowls at Rocky Flats, and the 2013 “1,000-year flood” at the site renews our concern that if drastic scenarios and emergencies arise, there needs to be an impartial group of people that can warn neighbors downwind and downstream. The institute could also do continued testing and initiate long-term testing on radioactivity remediation, focusing on natural solutions. Note, some of that mission has been handed to the Rocky Flats Stewardship Council, but unfortunately, it is largely comprised of governmental stakeholders with financial interests in development of the area around Rocky Flats.
RADIATION ALERT: The July 2015 report from the Rocky Flats Stewardship Council reported elevated levels of americium and of plutonium (1.02 pCi/L of Pu; remember “allowable” is .15 pCi/L). The July 2015 report has yet to be posted to their site but we have it! Check out their July 2015 meeting notes and look for “Contact Record 2015-05”.
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