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Citizens Seek Air Sampling at Parkway Site


Rocky Flats as viewed from near Standley Lake on a windy day (photo courtesy LeRoy Moore)

On Tuesday, February 21, 2012, local citizens asked elected officials of the cities most affected to request that EPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment test airborne dust for its radioactive content in the area at Rocky Flats intended for construction of the Jefferson Parkway.

It’s no secret that the Rocky Flats site is still contaminated with highly toxic radioactive materials like plutonium and americium. Some of us concerned that constructing a highway at Rocky Flats would endanger people’s health sent the following letter.

To:          City Council, Broomfield, CO

City Council, Westminster, CO

Board of Trustees, Town of Superior, CO

City Council, Arvada, CO

City Council, Golden, CO

From:     LeRoy Moore, PhD, Rocky Mountain Peace & Justice Center

Harvey Nichols, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Biology

W. Gale Biggs, PhD, Meteorological investigator

Chuck Newby, Principal Physicist, Colorado Environmental Analytics, LLC

Paula Elofson-Gardine, Environmental Information Network

Hildegard Hix, Citizen of Arvada

Rick Brownrigg, PhD, Software Engineer

Rob Medina, Citizens Involved in the Northwest Quadrant and

 Re:         Request that affected cities ask EPA and CDPHE to test airborne dust for plutonium and americium content in the area                  at Rocky Flats intended for construction of the Jefferson Parkway

Date:       February 21, 2012

Building the Jefferson Parkway along the contaminated Indiana St. edge of the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge would endanger public health by stirring up clouds of dust laden with plutonium, americium and other radionuclides.

In 1970 Atomic Energy Commission scientists showed that the area now intended for the proposed highway was contaminated with plutonium released from Rocky Flats. Recent citizen sampling shows that plutonium contamination in the soil in this same area at present is roughly equivalent to what it was in 1970. See:

Highway construction in the area therefore would stir up clouds of breathable particles of plutonium and other alpha-emitting radionuclides. DOE and EPA state that inhalation is by far the worst way to be exposed to such highly toxic material, since particles that lodge in the body continually irradiate surrounding tissue. The result years later could be cancer and immune suppression, leading to other chronic illnesses.

This reality, plus the documented deficiency of historic air sampling at Rocky Flats (see Nichols on Air Sampling and Biggs on Airborne Emissions at ) forced us to consider setting up our own project to sample airborne dust for radionuclide content along Indiana St. adjacent to the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge. This would provide baseline data for airborne dust along the proposed route. But we think private citizens should not have to cover the costs of needed sampling; it is the responsibility of the affected communities to safeguard the health of their populations.

If the Jefferson Parkway were to be built, the most affected people, aside from highway construction workers, would be residents of Arvada, Broomfield, Westminster, Superior and Golden. We therefore propose that elected representatives of these cities request jointly or as separate bodies that EPA and CDPHE sample airborne dust on both high-wind and low-wind days at the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge area intended for the Jefferson Parkway, with the samples to be analyzed for plutonium and other radionuclide content. The proposed EPA/CDPHE sampling must meet the following conditions:

  1. EPA and CDPHE’s sampling protocols and procedures will be transparent and will be monitored and approved by independent specialists designated by the authors of this message. CDPHE sampling will be conducted separately by both its Air Pollution Control Division and its Radiological Division.
  2. The sampling will begin without delay.
  3. EPA and CDPHE will issue bi-weekly reports of their sampling results, providing a baseline for airborne radionuclide-bearing dust in the area.
  4. If highway construction begins along the eastern edge of the Wildlife Refuge, sampling by EPA and CDPHE of dust for gross alpha content must occur in this area around the clock with computerized real-time report of gross alpha measurements to be disclosed immediately to the public. Gross alpha measurements are important because both thorium and uranium, also alpha-emitters, are present in this soil and thus pose additional inhalation danger, though less than plutonium or americium.
  5. All costs of sampling, analysis, reporting and monitoring are to be borne by the Jefferson Parkway Authority or by some party it designates, such as the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. In December 2011 USFWS issued a “Finding of No Significant Impact,” giving itself permission to transfer land to the Jefferson Parkway Authority.

Finally, the parties to whom this message is addressed are asked to provide the signatories of this message a definitive yes or no answer to our proposal within 45 days, that is, by April 6, 2012.

Thank you for your attention to this proposal. Comments or questions can be addressed in writing to LeRoy Moore at

Cc:    Senator Mark Udall

Senator Michael Bennet

Representative Jared Polis

Representative Ed Perlmutter

Governor John Hickenlooper

Steve Guertin, Director, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Region 6

Michael D. Dix, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Steve Berendzen, Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge

James B. Martin, Administrator, EPA Region 8

Martha E. Rudolph, Environmental Program Director, CDPHE

Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners

Boulder County Board of County Commissioners

Boulder City Council

Jefferson Parkway Public Highway Authority

Rocky Flats Stewardship Council

Supporters of this letter

Tom Hoffman, Friends of the Foothills

Anne Fenerty, MS, Chemistry

Jenna Hirsch, Lakewood resident, chemist, Air Pollution Testing, Inc.

Jane Bunin, PhD, ecologist

Tanya Ishikawa, Federal Heights, Buffalo Trails Multimedia

Dave Chandler, Arvada resident

Ron Forthofer, PhD, retired professor of biostatistics

Cody Spyker, student at Naropa University

Steven C. Moore and Martha Griffin, residents of Boulder

Carole Gallagher, American Ground Zero: The Secret Nuclear War

Dave and Doris Depenning,  Blue Mountain

John Lodenkampe, The Environmental Group of Coal Creek Canyon

Oak Chezar, professor

Joy Boston, artist

Kim Homer, restauranteur.

Cynda Collins Arsenault, resident of Superior

Christopher Hormel, resident of Boulder County

Greg Marsh,  Citizens Against Rocky Flats Contamination

Debra Odom, concerned voter

Stephen Thomas, professor

Daniel James, MA

Roy Young, conservation geologist, Boulder

Andrew Tirman, Nederland resident & student.

Richard D. Andrews, President, Boulder Innovative Technologies, Inc.

To support this letter, go to this link and sign the petition

Scientists from the Atomic Energy Commission produced this map in 1970 to show plutonium contamination on and off the Rocky Flats site. The dotted red line indicates the route of the proposed Jefferson Parkway (click to enlarge)

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