Westword: Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor
From the week of August 3

Blowing Hot and Cold

Feel the burn: Our thanks to Westword and Eileen Welsome for bringing the dirty and disturbing history of Rocky Flats to a whole new audience in the current series "From Cold War to Hot Property." She does her homework, and it shows.

In 1986, my sister Susan Hurst learned of the radiotoxic spray irrigation at Rocky Flats that was running off into tributaries that flowed into our public drinking supplies, and it alarmed her. She took these concerns to the City of Westminster and was promptly threatened by the city council with public censure and jail time for trying to "incite the public to panic." Sue then contacted FBI Special Agent Jon Lipsky, who was very interested in the Clean Water Act violations that Rockwell International pleaded guilty to in 1991, after the unprecedented FBI raid on June 6, 1989, and the subsequent grand jury.

In the fall of 1988, Standley Lake made the Superfund list because of plutonium held up in the sediments -- but not wanting to alarm the public, it continues to allow and encourage recreational boating, swimming and fishing activities. The Superfund recreational area has been written off as "okay" because the agencies and cities decided that it would be more hazardous to disrupt the sediments than it would be to just leave them alone.

Nothing has changed, except more people have moved in that don't know the local area's history, political climate and aggressive developers.With the many documented and undocumented incidents of clandestine dumping and burial of nuclear waste in the Rocky Flats buffer zone (the one-mile area surrounding the industrial area), many consider it to be a high-risk area that should have permanently restricted access status.

On April 6, 2000, Rocky Flats conducted a very controversial burn of fifty acres of buffer-zone vegetation, and the plant wants to continue this practice until it has burned off all sections of the zone. Our radiation monitor captured alarmingly high readings that persisted for about a week from this blaze. We urge members of the public to express their concern that further prescribed burns not be allowed at this site. Too many millions of lives are at stake in the Denver metro area, and there is no escape from breathing this contaminated smoke.

We look forward to the rest of Eileen's series.

Paula Elofson-Gardine, executive director
Environmental Information Network

Toxic shock: "You handle plutonium; you die." So states my brother-in-law, a scientist at Ball Aerospace who has a doctorate in physics from the University of Colorado at Boulder. It may be now, it may be twenty to thirty years from now, but the end is inescapable. I am appalled that Rocky Flats's management appeared to be so callous that they began causing American deaths to protect Americans.

John Rasmussen