Activists want details on inquiry into ex-nuke weapons plant via KRQE

By: DAN ELLIOTT, Associated Press

DENVER (AP) – Activists asked a U.S. judge Thursday to make documents public from a 27-year-old criminal investigation into a former nuclear weapons plant outside Denver with a history of fires, leaks and spills.

The activists said the documents could show whether the federal government did enough to clean up the site before turning part of it into a wildlife refuge and opening it to the public.

The government built plutonium triggers at the Rocky Flats plant from 1952 to 1989. It was shut down after a two-year grand jury investigation into environmental violations.

After the investigation, Rockwell International, the contractor that operated the plant, pleaded guilty in 1992 to criminal charges that included mishandling chemical and radioactive material. The company was fined $18.5 million.


The plutonium processing area was declared a Superfund site and underwent a $7 billion cleanup. It remains off-limits to the public.

The buffer zone surrounding the manufacturing area was turned into a wildlife refuge and opened to the public last fall over the objection of some groups. They said the federal government had not done enough to ensure it was safe.

The government determined no cleanup was necessary there. Mellen said that finding was based primarily on soil test samples, with five samples taken on every 30 acres. That would be a total of about 870 samples across 8 square miles (21 square kilometers) of land.


The groups asking for the release of the documents are the Alliance of Nuclear Workers Advocacy Groups, Rocky Flats Downwinders, Candelas Glows/Rocky Flats Glows, Environmental Information Network, Rocky Flats Neighborhood Association, Rocky Flats Right to Know and Rocky Mountain Peace & Justice Center.

Some of the groups are also plaintiffs in a separate lawsuit challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to open the refuge to the public.

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