Artivism

Too “Hot” to Burn? Community Concerns About Proposed Burn Gaining Media Attention

Candelas Glows members at the boundary between Candelas and Rocky Flats where Fish & Wildlife want to burn pesky weeds...

Candelas Glows members at the boundary between Candelas and Rocky Flats where Fish & Wildlife want to burn pesky weeds…

Community members along Colorado’s Front Range are bracing themselves for a possible 701-acre fire that US Fish & Wildlife wants to initiate on ex-nuclear SuperFund site, Rocky Flats. Community members as well as local politicians and municipalities are nearly begging Fish and Wildlife to cancel the burn due to fears of contamination. We echo the sentiments, based on the history of the site, the stories we continue to hear from family, neighbors and ex-workers who suffer physically, animals we have known and love who have gotten sick out there, and based on the previous burn that Fish & Wildlife undertook in 2000. Like the City of Arvada, the Town of Superior, the Rocky Flats Stewardship Council, Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice, and the 2,000+ people who have signed this petition, we do not want to breathe in the contaminated smoke that could billow from the site and its notorious high winds, nor do we want the risk of bare topsoil at the site– even if only briefly. That has gotten the media talking about this issue, from the Daily Camera and a host of other papers including the Examiner and Denver Post, to Fox News, to CBS, ABC. We were deeply dismayed at the recent Rocky Flats Stewarship Council Meeting when Fish and Wildlife seemed to say that they want to go ahead with the burn regardless of community outcry, municipality requests to cancel, and a known history of contamination at the site…. including the “hot spots” reported on by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (see below). US Fish and Wildlife has reiterated they will only give 24-hour notice about the burn (as they assess wind patterns and weather). Here’s a little video with one of our awesome leaders, Alesya Casse explaining some of this in 50 seconds or less. Notice we do not advocate bringing goats onto the land to mitigate for weeds. We think solutions need to be vetted by scientists, officials and community members. Until then, let’s leave the site alone! Please take a moment to help spread the word. Thanks to the Daily Camera for the picture and video .

Click here to see CDPHE data: Pu in SW portion of RFNWR-1.jpg

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Denver Post Article on Candelas Glows & Rocky Flats concerns

Denver Post Article on Candelas Glows & Rocky Flats concerns

Sunday’s Denver Post (2/9/14) featured an article on community concerns about Colorado’s controversial developments surrounding Rocky Flats, an infamous former nuclear weapons plant. The coverage is important because much of the housing developments have occurred without much public debate. Many neighbors, ex-workers, and people in the know shake their heads or have conversations about their surprise, dismay, or worries, in fact those conversations helped spark “Candelas Glows.” The controversy has largely flown under the media radar, however, which could be bad news for new-comers, neighbors, residents and workers.

The release of this article is a good time to reiterate that the concerns here are not just about the families moving into these homes adjacent to Rocky Flats. If the soil is contaminated, then the dust is contaminated and workers are digging in it and kicking it up for folks in Denver, Westminster, Arvada, Broomfield and Superior, etc. to breathe it in. What about workers and neighbors?

One thing still to be adequately covered by the media and authorities include the effects of September’s flooding on the site, both on and below the surface including nearby water, some of which serves as drinking water to nearby communities. Who will have oversight on this land when other natural disasters like the flooding or drought occur? US Fish & Wildlife?! Will they know what to watch out for to protect the public from their “Wildlife Refuge?”

Please take a moment to comment on the article, or better yet, respond through a letter to the editor. It doesn’t have to big or fancy. It’s important that your thoughts be shared– even if you’re not a “professional protester,” scientist or policy maker!

candelasglows@gmail.com

Outrageous New Icon for Rocky Flats!

RF Horse at sign

Artist Jeff Gipe’s horse with the Rocky flats closure sign off of Hwy 93.

UPDATE: To donate to the artist for repairs of the recent vandalism, please visit his “go fund me” site.

A local artist has decided to match the outrageous, radioactive history of Rocky Flats with a large, surprising work of art. Looking at Colorado’s newest historical horse sculpture conjures up images of the well know conversation-starting Bronco icon at Denver International Airport. It’s just as bright and confusing with a touch of disturbing, but it seems to have a much sweeter soul—which speaks to the “Wildlife Refuge” designation of Rocky Flats. It’s sure to leave viewers with more questions than answers. The life-size horse is wearing a magenta hazmat suit with black booties. A respirator partially covers a beautiful realistic face with thoughtful eyes.

The artist, Jeff Gipe has been interested in issues surrounding Rocky Flats for quite some time and was relieved when a local group, Candelas Glows, began raising alarms about new housing developments being built adjacent to the former nuclear weapons plant. But Jeff has a much more personal reason that he’s spent thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours, and lots of sweat and tears making his horse creation come to life. Jeff’s father worked at the plant for 20 years and like many of his co-workers, now suffers devastating physical effects of working at one of the world’s most notoriously polluted plutonium processing sites. In talking with members of Candelas Glows, Jeff became intrigued with the idea of memorializing the site.

Local activist riding sculpture with matching respirator.

Local activist riding sculpture with matching respirator across from rocky Flats.

Along with Candelas Glows and many community members, Gipe is concerned that Rocky Flats’ history is being ignored and that because of it, more people will be harmed. Located in a pristine-looking and beautiful part of the Front Range, the contaminated history of Rocky Flats is invisible: the radioactive accidents, the midnight plutonium incinerations, the corroded storage tanks, the sealed court documents, the historical FBI raid and the leftover plutonium waste buried there. “It’s up to people who know the history of the site, and artists,” says Gipe, “to make the invisible visible. To keep memory and even respect for the history of a critical Cold War site alive.” The horse may be shocking, but nothing compared to the controversial and sometimes shocking history it is trying to invoke. And its timing is perfect. After the September floods, activists and scientists are concerned that some of the waste buried at Rocky Flats may have risen to the surface and/or further contaminated groundwater. And in the last week of 2013, a land swap was completed which is considered to be a critical ingredient of the toll road proposed on the infamous site.

The 400-600 lb horse is lining up a couple of appearances, but is looking for a more permanent home. Gipe’s hope is that it be placed on Rocky Flats or land facing it to begin to memorialize the site and bring attention to its tumultuous and sure to be long-lasting history. For more, check out the  Facebook page for more or email at candelasglows@gmail.com .

Close up of respirator-clad activist and horse sculpture.

Close up of respirator-clad activist and horse sculpture.

The artist's icon with Candelas logo.

The artist’s icon with Candelas logo.

The sculpture in front of Candelas' recreation center and playground.

The sculpture in front of Candelas’ recreation center and playground.