Fish & Wildlife Proposes 700 Acre Burn at Rocky Flats

Rocky FlatsU.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 halflives of plutonium isotopes tend to be relatively long: Pu-238 has a halflife of 87.7 years; Pu-239 has a halflife is 24,100 years, and Pu-240 has a halflife 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.

About the author /


Michelle Poolet

PLAN Jeffco Board Member. Michelle Poolet is a relative new-comer to PLAN Jeffco, but not to the world of volunteer work. She has been on the Board of PLAN Jeffco since 2008, and in that time has worked hard to ensure the success of various PJ conferences and events. She is part of the PLAN Jeffco web content subcommittee, and liaisons between the PLAN Jeffco Board and the Open Space Advisory Committee. Her “day job” is as President and Chief Enterprise Architect of Mount Vernon Data Systems, a BBB A+ accredited database consulting company. Michelle lives on Lookout Mountain, in unincorporated JeffCo, with her best pal, TessaRose the collie, with whom she enjoys daily trekking in the forests.

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