A federal suit was filed on May 1st, to block the opening of trails – inside Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge – to the public. A similar suit that the plaintiffs filed in federal court was dismissed by a judge last year because the federal government had not made any final decision, but it is now expected the federal government will open the refuge this summer.
Attorney Randall Weiner says that the largest proposed trail in the system, the green way trail, goes over soil that is contaminated with plutonium.
Attorney Randall Weiner
“Now why didn’t the agency that’s responsible for this comply with the national environmental policy act and take a hard look at that central question of – is it safe to put hiking trails on lands that everyone acknowledges are contaminated with plutonium that has never been remediated?”
Harvey Nichols, professor emeritus of biology, has been concerned about plutonium at Rocky Flats since before the plant closed. “I’ve been involved in Rocky Flats for 44 years, because the Department of Energy came to me and asked me to do a contract study at Rocky Flats to discover what wind blown particles there are out there and what I found horrified me because the tests I did showed that there is plutonium dust in tiny quantities but capable of killing people, all over the site and being released when they were operating, being released on a daily basis.”
Nichols says it is an uncalculated risk for anyone to go out and recreate at Rocky Flats as he says the federal agencies have been negligent in analyzing the risks to the public given that the half a half-life of plutonium is 24,100 years.
“It’s a massive gamble and it should not be allowed to go ahead.”
Denver Public Schools have joined Boulder Valley and St. Vrain Valley school districts in deciding to not allow field trips to the refuge due to concerns about contamination.