Denver Direct: Citizens seek sampling of air for radioactivity in area at Rocky Flats intended for construction of the Jefferson Parkway

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Citizens seek sampling of air for radioactivity in area at Rocky Flats intended for construction of the Jefferson Parkway

News Release:  February 21, 2012 

Today local citizens asked the elected officials of Arvada, Broomfield, Westminster, Golden and Superior 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,” commented LeRoy Moore of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center. “Some of us are concerned that constructing a highway at Rocky Flats would endanger people’s health. We decided to send a letter urging officials of the cities most affected to get EPA and CDPHE to do needed air sampling so we can all better understand conditions out there.”

  • The area at the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge intended for construction of the Jefferson Parkway is contaminated with radioactive materials, including plutonium and americium.
  • Highway construction there would stir up dust laden with breathable radioactive particles, endangering the health of nearby residents.
  • Elected officials of the most affected cities are urged to ask DOE and CDPHE to set up an independently monitored program of sampling airborne dust in the area and to analyze it for its radioactive content.
  • If construction of the highway begins, EPA and CDPHE are expected to continue their sampling around the clock with real-time reports of the results to the public.
  • The costs of the project will be borne by the Jefferson Parkway Authority or its designee. 

Finally, the group asked the city officials to whom their letter is addressed for a definitive yes or no answer to their proposal within 45 days, that is, by April 6, 2012.

A copy of the letter to city officials is attached.
Contact person:  LeRoy Moore at
 [email protected] or 303-447-2779.

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,

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
 [email protected]

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.