Let Science Rule on Flats Access

The controversy continues over whether cities and counties will contribute to construction of a bridge and underpass for hiker and animal access to the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge. Failure to contribute could kill the Rocky Mountain Greenway Trail, which would eventually connect the Rocky Mountain Arsenal and Rocky Flats Refuges to Rocky Mountain National Park. A recent Denver Post editorial gives an excellent summary of the issue. It says that critics, “…simply do not trust assurances from federal and state officials that the area is safe and the cleanup has been successful. Basically, they don’t trust the available science. This is par for the course for activists who have been pushing exaggerated claims of plutonium contamination around Rocky Flats for decades, but it’s sad to see local officials buying into it.”

Some cities and counties are planning to collect soil samples of the area “to determine whether the trail would be safe” I sent a letter agreeing with most of the editorial, but warning that the results of sampling will be meaningless unless they are compared to samples taken by the exact techniques from some city parks and trails that are considered to be “safe areas.” What will be found is that all of Colorado contains plutonium fallout contamination. An extensive study of transuranics in the environment completed about 1980 found the entire earth is contaminated with plutonium. Denver is in the latitude that had some of the highest average plutonium levels. I predict the area of the project will have virtually the same amount of plutonium as samples from local cities or from the western or eastern areas of the state. Only if they make the mistake of sampling ski areas will there be much of a difference. Snowfall efficiently washes plutonium fallout out of the atmosphere.

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