U.S. Fish & Wildlife is planning a “controlled burn” of 701 acres in the southern section of Rocky Flats. LeRoy Moore, PhD, a consultant with the Rocky Mountain Peace & Justice Center and Boulder resident who has followed Rocky Flats for 35 years, has raised the alarm.
We first heard of this plan via Judy Dennison’s “Golden Newsletter”. Judy re-published a letter that Dr. Moore had written for the Boulder Camera, the full text of which can be found at http://www.dailycamera.com/Opinion/ci_26988064/LeRoy-Moore:-Rocky-Flats-burn-a-bad-idea
Rocky Flats, which is now a National Wildlife Refuge, is managed by U.S. Fish & Wildlife. During the 40 years (1952-1989) when Rocky Flats housed a nuclear weapons plant, there were documented episodes of plutonium release, on-site and off-site. The subsequent Superfund Cleanup “stabilized” Rocky Flats by sequestering plutonium particles in the soil.
The concerns of Dr. Moore and his colleagues is that, when the soil is disturbed, as it will be by a burn of this magnitude, it will release the plutonium into the air. Aerosolized plutonium is the most dangerous form this radioactive contaminant can assume, since it’s easily inhaled by unknowing victims. And plutonium doesn’t destabilize and loose its radioactivity very quickly. From http://www.epa.gov/radiation/radionuclides/plutonium.html: “… the half–lives of plutonium isotopes tend to be relatively long: Pu-238 has a half–life of 87.7 years; Pu-239 has a half–life is 24,100 years, and Pu-240 has a half–life of 6,560 years. The decay process continues until a stable, non-radioactive element is formed.”
This week, both the Golden Transcript and the Westminster Window have picked up the news story and detailed it more completely. To read these articles, go to The Golden Transcript, http://goldentranscript.net/stories/Activists-speak-out-against-Flats-burn,175258 or The Westminster Window, http://westminsterwindow.com/stories/Activists-speak-out-against-Flats-burn,175258 . The articles quote Paula Elofsen-Gardin — a Rocky Flats activist and longtime researcher of Rocky Flats history, David Lucas — refuge manager for the Fish & Wildlife Service, Michelle Gabrioloff-Parish — resident of nearby Superior, CO, which is downwind of Rocky Flats, and Dr. Moore — former professor and co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Peace & Justice Center.
Dr. Moore has created an online petition located at http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/cancel-the-prescribed?source=c.em.mt&r_by=364519. It requests that the Fish & Wildlife Service consider cancelling the prescribed burn (scheduled for sometime in April of 2015) because of the potential for plutonium release as a result of this burn.