Archive for July, 2010|Monthly archive page

Citizen sampling finds breathable plutonium at two locations near Rocky Flats

In Environment, Plutonium, Public Health, Rocky Flats, Wildlife Refuge on July 27, 2010 at 9:45 am

At an August 4, 2010, news conference held at the State Capitol in Denver Wes McKinley, Kristen Iversen and I announced that citizen sampling had found breathable plutonium at two locations near Rocky Flats. State Rep. Wes McKinley was foreman of the grand jury that spent nearly three years examining evidence of environmental lawbreaking at Rocky Flats after the 1989 FBI raid of the plant. Kristen Iversen is author of prize-winning Molly Brown: Unraveling the Myth as well as of the forthcoming Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Shadow of Rocky Flats.

The sampling was done on April 14 by Todd Margulies of Golden, who’s experienced in this kind of work, and myself. The results were analyzed by Marco Kaltofen of Boston Chemical Data Corp. of Natick, MA. Of the four samples Todd and I collected, two, one taken outdoors and the other indoors, contained plutonium (Pu). Our outdoor sample was taken on open space along Indiana St., directly across the street from the RF property. The Pu at this location was blown there from the Rocky Flats site, refuting the claim of the Colo. Dept. of Public Health and Environment and the EPA that there is no pathway by which Pu from RF can reach visitors to the RF National Wildlife Refuge. On the basis of this sample, we recommended that government agencies establish at Rocky Flats a permanent program for sampling respirable dust in surface soil and testing it for Pu content. Second, we recommended that the wildlife refuge be kept closed to the public.

A sample collected in crawl space under a house built in 1960 about a mile from the RF site near Standley Lake contained, according to Kaltofen’s analysis, hot particles with high concentrations of Pu. This suggests that similar deposits of Pu must exist in indoor dust at other structures — houses, schools, libraries, businesses, etc. — in the area downwind of RF known to be contaminated with Pu released from the plant. At the news conference we had a copy of a map produced by AEC scientists in 1970 showing this contaminated area. So far as I know ours was the very first time indoor dust had been sampled for its Pu content in the area downwind of RF. Kristen Iversen made two recommendations based on this sample: a) that DOE set up a program to sample indoor dust for Pu content for anyone who requests it for structures in the known contaminated area; b) that DOE provide assessment of the health of any people in the known contaminated area that request it.

For more details, look under Nuclear Nexus/Rocky Flats on the  rmpjc.org web site.