DRAFT Work Plan for Nuclear Guardianship at Rocky Flats

In Democracy, Environment, Nuclear Guardianship, Plutonium, Public Health, Rocky Flats, Wildlife Refuge on January 29, 2011 at 12:55 am

On Jan. 20 I posted on this site an item called the “Beginning of a Platform” for the Rocky Flats Nuclear Guardianship project. Later that day I received from Mickey Harlow a statement she, Sam Dixion, Anne Fenerty and Hildegard Hix had put together responding to this draft “platform” statement. What they wrote had points about the kind of organization that is needed and how it could be developed, matters not dealt with in my draft. Then on Tuesday, Jan. 25, Kathleen Sullivan and Judith Mohling expressed very strongly that they didn’t think “platform” is the right word for what we’re doing. The outcome of that discussion was instead to use the phrase “work plan.” What follows is a first attempt to lay out a work plan that melds what Mickey sent with my earlier platform draft. Comments are invited.


Because the nuclear waste buried at Rocky Flats poses a danger that will last for thousands of years, the task of the Rocky Flats Nuclear Guardianship project is to keep this reality alive in the minds of future generation. As members of the nuclear age we are all implicated and responsible for the legacy that we will leave behind.

Activities to build and maintain the Guardianship organization

a. The Guardianship project will build on what has already happened at Rocky Flats.

b. Guardians will be expected to become aware of environmental conditions at the site. Materials and educational presentations will be developed and made available for this purpose, with particular emphasis on why and how plutonium remaining in the environment poses a long-term danger.

c. Guardians will ensure that members of the group participate in and provide input in all meetings, decisions and discussions related to the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge.

d. Efforts will be made to recruit former workers, members of the scientific community, former and current government personnel (elected and otherwise), and the general public to become members of the Nuclear Guardianship program. Guardians will build this program from the ground up, recognizing that the more involvement we get the more influence we will have at the state, local and national level.

e. The organization will provide a monthly forum for exchange of information by email or in informal meetings. This exchange will enable members to provide letters, white papers or input on important issues related to stewardship of the site, and to ensure ongoing monitoring and protection of citizens, communities and the environment. We must be able to back up what we say with pertinent documentation.

f. A distinctive pin will be designed for members to wear to all events related to the site. Members can purchase the pin. It’s a way to distinguish those who regard themselves as Guardians.

Guardianship Activities

Each item in the following list presents an avenue for possible action. The list is organized according to current priorities of urgency. As we move along, these priorities are subject to change.Individuals and groups may commit to working in specific areas. Of course, other items can be added to this list.

Items of greatest current urgency:

1. Get reversal of the decision to allow public recreation at the Rocky Flats site; the site instead should be managed as open space that is closed to the public.
• Send letters to Senator Mark Udall expressing wishes of his constituents that the Rocky Flats wildlife refuge remain closed to the public.
• Recruit and organize parents, teachers, youth and all who oppose public recreation at the Rocky Flats site.

2. Stop construction of the Jefferson Parkway (proposed toll highway) along the eastern predominantly downwind side of the Rocky Flats site (this can be done by working with Go the Betterway, or CINQ [Citizens Involved in the Northwest Quadrant], on line at http://www.gothebetterway.org ).

3. Stop DOE’s plan to breach the dams of holding ponds on the Rocky Flats site, because of the likelihood that contaminants would be released into downstream communities (DOE is currently holding “Adaptive Management Plan” (AMP) meetings on this topic; to receive notices, contact Bob Darr at Bob.Darr@lm.doe.gov).

4. Support former Rocky Flats workers’ efforts to receive compensation and medical care for ailments likely due to workplace exposures to toxins (a key contact is Terrie Barrie tbarrie@yahoo.com).

Items of intermediate urgency:

5. Recognize that the so-called wildlife refuge is no refuge at all; search for a more accurate descriptor.

6. Establish on the site a permanent program of periodic sampling of respirable dust in surface soil and testing of each sample for plutonium or americium content.

7. End gravel mining on the site by securing government purchase of the mineral rights.

8. Release to the public the documents that were sealed in the Denver Federal Courthouse as part of the out-of-court settlement of the case brought against Rockwell after the 1989 FBI raid on the Rocky Flats plant to collect evidence of alleged environmental lawbreaking.

Items for longer-term work:

9. Establish a permanent program to research health effects of plutonium exposure on wildlife (a research project for local universities).

10. Develop educational materials/curricula for junior high, high school, and college on the science and history of Rocky Flats.

11. Revisit the cleanup.

  1. LeRoy, thanks for your apparently tireless efforts on this issue. My wife and moved to Colorado about two years ago. We’ve spent a lot of time looking for a place to settle. We’ve been aware of Rocky Flats and factored that into the search. It’s the major reason we wouldn’t consider living in Arvada. More recently, we’ve been increasingly inclined toward Superior. But we just realized in the last couple days just how close Superior is to the Rocky Flats site. As far as I can tell, because of prevailing wind and water movement directions (west>east, northwest>southeast), and because of the fact that the most contaminated sites seemed to be located on the east and southeast side of the Rock Flats industrial area, I can’t seem to find any indication of effects from Rocky Flats in the Rock Creek watershed, or in soil in the Superior area from wind dispersion.

    I’m wondering if you can point me to any resources you think a would-be home buyer in Superior should read? More directly, is there cause for concern – would you consider it safe to live in Superior?

    More generally, a lot of the Guardianship plan is focus on the site itself, including monitoring to keep it contained. But given the degree of ground water intrusion (see the map you posted here: https://leroymoore.wordpress.com/2010/10/03/map-rf-contam/), would you consider there to be sufficient concerns that beyond stopping future development in the area, there should be an effort to roll back development and actually vacate portions of Arvada or Westminster closest to the site?

    • Hello Erick:

      Evidently I never responded to your message. Or did I? Seems I might have sent you a copy of a map that shows that the principal area contaminated with plutonium released from Rocky Flats does not include Superior. Likewise, Rock Creek, while it passes through the Rocky Flats site, because its route is upwind of the former industrial area and did not get runoff from this area, is not contaminated. Interestingly, however, the Rock Creek development is the only area near Rocky Flats where people who purchase homes in the development must sign a statement alerting them to the potential for contamination from Rocky Flats.

      By the way, next Tuesday, May 10, at 7 PM, I’ll be giving a talk about Rocky Flats: A Local Hazard Forever at the Standley Lake Public Library, 8487 Kipling, Arvada. The talk will focus on why there’s a public health danger at the site and what we may do about it.

      Best, LeRoy Moore

    • Hello Erick:

      Did I respond to this comment by email? Seems that I did quite some time ago. But in case I failed to do that I’ll respond now. Superior would certainly be a safer place to live in that it’s not in the path of prevailing wind from the Rocky Flats site. The map to which you refer, by Atomic Energy Commission scientists, shows the locations where they found plutonium released to downwind areas off the Rocky Flats site, and Superior is not in what they showed to be the contaminated areas, as are parts of Arvada, Broomfield and Westminster. The Rock Creek watershed is less contaminated than either the Woman Creek or Walnut Creek watersheds that drain the part of the site that was once the industrial area.

      As for your question about stopping future development in areas downwind and downstream from Rocky Flats, this might be a wise move but it would be difficult to accomplish because in the 1970s the State of Colorado established a standard for construction in areas contaminated with plutonium that are off the Rocky Flats site, in that if plutonium deposits are found that exceed the not very strict amount allowed construction can proceed providing that the contaminated soil is plowed under. The story of the setting of this standard is told in an article I just published, available on line. Go to http://www.rockyflatsnuclearguardianship.org/leroy-moore/papers-by-leroy-moore-phd-2/ and open “Democracy and Public Health at Rocky Flats.” A few pages into this article there’s a brief section of the setting of this standard.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: