There was a commentary posted a couple of weeks ago about the proposal to perform a controlled burn in an area of the wildlife refuge in the vicinity of the closed Rocky Flats Plant. Activists who have developed a career of protesting anything about the Plant that produced nuclear weapons parts, including plutonium parts, have done their usual fine job of exaggeration risks to the point the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced the burn will be postponed. The article by Bruce Finely of the Denver Post announcing the decision also manages to repeat the inflammatory statement that Rocky Flats “…became an environmental disaster.”
The agency managing the refuge said they “…still favor the long-planned 701 acre burn—based on science—as the best way to convert Rocky Flats into a healthy wildlife refuge and protect a massive new housing development in the area.” However, they bowed to ominous warnings and said, “…we have heard concerns from the public and we want to take time to further engage in dialogue on these issues.” The burn has been issued the necessary permits, including one from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment. All agency reports had pointed out that the burn would not present a safety problem. The levels of plutonium in the area the burn was proposed are virtually the same as levels throughout the Front Range that have existed since the era of atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons.
An official of the Fish and Wildlife explains, “…we have heard concerns from the public and we want to engage in further dialogue on these issues…As good neighbors, we want to assure the public that safety is our absolute priority.”
I mentioned in my previous commentary that I didn’t care much about the decision about the burn. I was wrong. I find myself discouraged. Once again public opinion and the actions of government agencies have been manipulated by inflammatory and inaccurate comments that succeeded in creating unwarranted fear. Science and reason are once again losing to fear mongering.
I have a prediction. There will be sampling and analysis of smoke from the burn if it is eventually approved and performed. It will be ominously reported that plutonium was found in the smoke. It won’t be mentioned that there would be equivalent amounts of plutonium found in smoke from a grass fire near Grand Junction, Limon, or anywhere in the world.