Letters to the Editor
From the week of August 10
There Glows the Neighborhood
Running hot and cold: Friends of our family recently moved to one of the new developments within Superior. When I chided them about their proximity to Rocky Flats, they asked, "What is Rocky Flats?" I pessimistically suspect that this response to Rocky Flats is now all too common. My wife and I proceeded to describe the facility from what we have learned and witnessed since moving to the Front Range in 1980.
Eileen Welsome's recent series on Rocky Flats, "From Cold War to Hot Property," has been riveting. Thank you for offering real journalism at a time and in a place where "Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil" has become a community mantra.
Eileen Welsome's articles on the problems at the Rocky Flats plant have been extremely informative. I have been arguing the necessity of having a fair workers' compensation program for the ill workers for approximately five years, and I learned some new things reading the three installments.
As you may know, before its month-long recess, the U.S. House of Representatives neglected to pass the Energy Workers Compensation Act, which would give these ill workers fair monetary compensation and the health care they deserve.
I applaud you for Eileen Welsome's just-concluded series. It is information that the public needs about the history and serious problems that face our communities resulting from the legacy of Rocky Flats. These articles are educational and could not appear in Westword at a more important time. There are several community groups working together to achieve a level of cleanup that is safe for the environment and also ensures a sustainable living for all creatures.
It is outrageous that people will not wake up from their frozen winter consciousness and begin to become involved in raising their voices to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, Kaiser-Hill, the state health department and Rocky Flats, to let them know that cleanup levels are unacceptable to the public and the plan to do prescribed burns for vege-tation management on this highly contaminated land is unthinkable!
After several long months of talking to the public as a concerned citizen with regard to various issues pending at the Rocky Flats site, I have found the public sector to be unaware of the situation and the levels of contamination.
I thank you for publishing these excellent articles. These are the times. We are the people.
Citizens Concerned About Nuclear Waste
Gram crackers: In his lectures and in his book, Len Ackland, author of Rocky Flats and the Nuclear West, faults the Denver media for never publishing what little it knew about what was happening at the former weapons plant. Even today, coverage of what is happening there, as well as reports of the Rocky Flats Coalition of Local Governments (RFCLOG) meetings, are not often reported; when they are reported, they usually lack the necessary background information that would inform citizens of their importance.
Now, Westword and Eileen Welsome have performed an invaluable public service with the publication of your Rocky Flats series. You have empowered the average non-scientist, the person on the street, to become involved in the decision-making process.
As a citizen observer, I have attended the monthly RFCLOG meetings since April 1999. I cringe each time proposals are made that would allow the moving of dirt on the site or in the buffer zone. Some of the proposals that I've heard are: 1) land swaps, which would have allowed development near, or in, the buffer zone; 2) expansion by the National Renewal Energy Laboratory of its wind farm, in the northern part of the buffer zone, plus keeping some of the buildings and maintaining some roads; 3) permission to dig test holes to determine the feasibility of running power lines across the area, which Public Service has requested and received; 4) a request by one community that easements be granted for the building of the Northwest Parkway; 5) the possibility of a trails system; and 6) a declaration by one community that they "do not want the area fenced because it adds to the stigma of Rocky Flats." That same city thinks management of the cleaned-up area should be handed over to local governments! The frightening part of all this is that some of these suggestions are actually embraced by some members of RFCLOG. Eileen Welsome's well-researched article explains why I cringe.
Of the thousands of words in these articles, I have found one sentence that should be copied in very large type, framed and displayed in the following places: the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, the Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Transportation, the Office of the Governor of Colorado, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the state Department of Transportation, the office of Bill Vidal at DRCOG, the Department of Water Quality, every metro city council chamber, all area county commissioners' chambers, and every meeting of RFCLOG and its sub-committees.
To quote Welsome: "A gram of plutonium, which is denser than lead, is hardly bigger than a BB, yet it is so carcinogenic that one-millionth of a gram, or a microgram, can trigger a fatal cancer."
Thank you, and please continue to keep all of us informed about the important happenings at the Rocky Flats Technology Site.
Rocky road: I continue reading with consuming interest your Rocky Flats series. You are to be commended for doing battle with the government -- the shadow part of the government we love to hate. Look for a tax audit next week.
So far in the articles, I've missed any mention of Dr. Johnson, whose soil and water samples and knack for publicity broke the story years ago. He paid for his efforts with his life. Cancer, probably radiation-induced.
The striking inference one can make from the Rocky Flats saga is that there are many other branches of government also hoodwinking and endangering the public, empowered through the lack of effective oversight and redress. Rocky Flats just got caught -- the tip of the iceberg.
The beat goes on, but keep peeling back the layers of the onion.
Gene W. Edwards
Editor's note: Dr. Carl Johnson, who blew the whistle on contamination around Rocky Flats, was the subject of a Westword cover story twenty years ago, before our articles were archived electronically. But you can find Eileen Welsome's three-part Rocky Flats series, "From Cold War to Hot Property," as well as related stories, including our coverage of the Rocky Flats grand jury, archived on the Web. And check out Stuart Steers's "Forbidden Fruit," which details Arvada's desire to develop Rocky Flats, in this issue.