Wrongheaded complaints

In Democracy, Environment, Justice, Plutonium, Public Health, Rocky Flats, Wildlife Refuge on September 24, 2015 at 8:58 am

On September 2, 2015, the Boulder Daily Camera published an article of mine entitled “Prohibit Public Access to Rocky Flats.” It is available on this blog at https://leroymoore.wordpress.com/category/nuclear-guardianship/ My article said public access to Rocky Flats should be prohibited because visiting the site (now the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge) could expose one to plutonium remaining in the environment at the site, possibly wrecking one’s health. Plutonium is highly toxic for roughly 500,000 years. Tiny particles can be inhaled. Keeping the site closed will help protect wholly innocent people.

Here I will comment on two responses to my article that the Camera published. The first, by Dean Rundle, former Manager of the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge, challenged my analysis of public comments on the Environmental Impact Statement prepared for the Refuge in 2004. It shows that 81% of those commenting opposed public access at the Wildlife Refuge. Rundle dismisses this number because many of these people signed a petition and their identity is unknown. He says if one counts only local identifiable people, the division was about half for and half against public access. This is wishful thinking. Had he actually analyzed the comments of only identifiable individuals, he would have found that 64% opposed public access and 32% — or exactly half – favored it. My analysis is on line at http://media.wix.com/ugd/cff93e_a9cff9a4c30b4ac5bbfa27e93b91a9bf.pdf

The second response was written Reed Bailey, a former Rocky Flats worker. He says I have never “written a peer reviewed research paper on the physical effects of radiation on the human body, or any other scientific subject.” In fact, I published two peer reviewed articles in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, on in 2002 on setting standards for permissible exposure to radiation, the other in 2005 on the Rocky Flats Superfund cleanup. I was co-author with two colleagues of a paper on radiation exposure standards published in 2004 in Health Physics. A further peer-reviewed article by me, “Democracy and Public Health at Rocky Flats,” appeared in Tortured Science (2012). I also was the principal author of the Citizens Guide to Rocky Flats (1992). Most of these writings can be found on line at http://www.rockyflatsnuclearguardianship.org  In addition to actual publications, for four years I was a member of two committees of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, the principal U.S. organization that studies radiation health effects and makes recommendations regarding standards for permissible exposure to radiation.

Bailey also in effect accused me of lying when I mentioned a Columbia University study showing that taking a single plutonium particle into a lung could result in physical harm. In fact, there were two studies done by a team headed by Tom K. Hei of Columbia, both published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in 1997 and 2001. Both refer to possible harm, one from direct exposure to a single plutonium particle, the other from indirect exposure. Were Mr. Bailey more careful, he would have found what could be found. Instead he spoke from ignorance.

  1. my father was an engineer, and later the chief engineer at rocky flats, during the dow chemical years.
    he would not want me to, nor would i, set foot anywhere near rocky flats.
    he knew the impossibility of the site ever being restored to safe conditions.

  2. Pat:

    Thanks for these words. You might come to the RF Stewardship Council meeting and say this publicly Council members and government people who will be there. Look them up on the web and find when and where they next meet.

    LeRoy Moore

  3. …I have been wondering why a study of the Great Flood of 2014 has not been done on the Rocky flats area.
    Surely, great amounts of Plutonium migrated everywhere, now even clear to Nebraska I’m sure.

    has this been undertaken or planned?

    It seems like powers around Denver, want this all forgotten, doesn’t it.
    That Plutonium and Uranium, Americum could be endangering people all over the land, now.
    Also, what if that buried big pit of Plutonium, etc., close to the East side, explodes, like the buried tank in Russia some day???

    • The big flood was in September 2013. The water monitors at Rocky Flats failed to collect samples because they were so overwhelmed with water they were unable to perform. So no one knows how much plutonium or americium flowed off the site. Mionitoring is done on the two creeks that drain the site. During the flood there was also vast sheet flooding, in which water severaL inches deep flows overland, not down stream beds, and there is no system to attempt to monitor water in sheet flooding. Again, no one knows what contaminants flowed off the site in September 2013.

      There is no deposit of radioactive material anything like the quantity of contaminants stored in tanks at the Mayak facility in Russia. It was one of these tanks that exploded and released radioactive material in 1957. The only place in the U.S. that contains so much radioactive material in a form similar to that at Mayak Is the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state. The tanks at Hanford are very dangerous. They are undergoing what has proven to be very slow efforts to remove the waste so an explosion will not happen. Things are bad at Rocky Flats but much worse at Hanford.

      • Thank you very much for your reply!
        Yes! a typo, I meant 2013, and that information is awful. I also shutter to think about all the truckloads of dirt that dump trucks are taking and that have taken dirt off that south bordering site, to grade for Candelas. And where did that dirt go, and how much contaminants went all over the place, on the way.
        The buried Plutonium, etc.deposit(s) I was thinking of when I wrote, were the one’s that the employee-Union worker, in his radio interview, had seen a secretive map of big 20-30 foot deep pits that stuff was dumped in out there, and he said the largest was near the east side at Indiana, and he commented that that was a huge buried deposit down there, and his fear was it becoming a dirty bomb, especially if it was targeted by terrorism for example, or if it just blew up. Hanford, sounds horrible.

        One other question; is your organization considering preparing a speculative map, to show the public where it is safe to live, away from this contamination/
        I know there is no way to be exact, but it would be nice to consult.
        The existing maps seem to contradict each other somewhat, especially the 1967 fire map, where when you zoom in, the originating area is no where near the plant and looks like a misplaced overlay sort of. thank you so much again!

      • I believe you are describing a map showing deep burial locations throughout the Rocky Flats site. RF worker Jerry San Pietro and a colleague had heard of this map and asked RF authorities to let them see it. Their response was repeatedly rejected. But finally they were told on a certain day to come to a specific room in one of the RF buildings. They could spend a total of 10 minutes looking at the map, but they could not take pen, pencil, paper or any other writing material into the room or anything to photograph or copy the map with. During the cleanup San Pietro told officials of EPA and the Colo. Dept. of Public Health and Environment, regulators of the cleanup, about the map, since the cleanup being done did nothing about deep burials, and he wanted them to know what the map showed. They ignored him. So he turned to members of Congress, both Representatives and Senators. Again he was ignored. No one paid any attention to what he said. When he told me about the map I sent a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request to DOE asking to be sent a copy of the map. When a reply finally came, it was a map, but one that was well known to people who followed RF. It showed locations of shallow burials It was not the map of deep burials San Pietro had seen. He believes the map he saw must have been destroyed. He refers to Rocky Flats as the largest illegal nuclear waste dump in the country.

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