Plutonium up to 1,579 pCi/kg detected near Denver at Rocky Flats — Contamination levels remain as high as 40 years ago, BEFORE site ‘cleaned up’

Published: February 18th, 2012 at 9:27 pm ET


Title: Study: Rocky Flats area still as contaminated with plutonium as 40 years ago
Source: Boulder Daily Camera
Author: Laura Snider, Camera Staff Writer
Date: 02/18/2012 05:51:11 PM MST

Driven by concerns that running the Jefferson Parkway across a strip of land along the eastern edge of the Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge would stir up clouds of plutonium-laden dust, Boulder’s Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center commissioned a study last fall to gauge contamination levels in the area. […] 

When federal officials said they planned to rely on testing of the area that was done in the past, Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center hired its own contractor to test the soils. But after being denied access to the refuge for testing, that contractor [Marco Kaltofen, president of Boston Chemical Data Corp.] was forced to take samples from just outside the fence along Indiana Street. […]

Plutonium Levels

  • The newly released results show the area is as contaminated by radioactive plutonium now as it was 40 years ago, before the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant, which operated on that site, was closed and cleaned up
  • The results show that the plutonium contamination in the area is roughly the same now as it was four decades ago, according to Kaltofen
  • Kaltofen said the finding is surprising because he would have predicted that weathering over the decades, especially from the area’s stiff winds, would have dispersed the particles over time
  • Kaltofen’s results showed levels of plutonium isotopes in the area ranged from 0.019 picoCuries per gram of soil to 1.579 picoCuries per gram
  • Kaltofen said the background plutonium contamination in the West tends to be no more than 0.01 picoCuries per gram
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the amount of plutonium contamination found in the soil in the right of way is not at unsafe levels

More from Kaltofen

  • “The material is still there; it’s still on the surface”
  • “Essentially, what people found back in the ’70s is still true”
  • “One explanation is that there’s as much material coming from the central part of the site that’s replacing any material that’s eroding or blowing away”

Read the report here

Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge is located 16 miles northwest of Denver, Colorado

Published: February 18th, 2012 at 9:27 pm ET


Related Posts

  1. LA Times: Expert says ‘radiological process’ may have forced material out of container at US nuclear site, “Could be a mess”; Officials saying little about extent of problem — Levels remain too high to let in non-essential personnel — Air monitors not allowed to collect filters February 18, 2014
  2. Workers at U.S. nuclear site exposed — Levels “well above threshold for a High Contamination Area” #Hanford June 28, 2013
  3. Airborne plutonium detected outside troubled U.S. nuclear facility — Expert: ‘Radiation event’ appears to have occurred, leading to a release; “Levels are highest ever detected” around site February 19, 2014
  4. Gov’t: “Alarming” release of radioactivity from US nuclear site — AP: “Uncontrolled spread of contamination” — Official: Contains “high levels of radioactive isotopes” (VIDEO) February 24, 2016
  5. NRC: Alert still in effect at NJ nuclear plant — High water levels in Oyster Creek’s water intake structure remain October 30, 2012

30 comments to Plutonium up to 1,579 pCi/kg detected near Denver at Rocky Flats — Contamination levels remain as high as 40 years ago, BEFORE site ‘cleaned up’

  • Whoopie Whoopie

    Have you had enough Nuclear YET?! SHUT THEM ALL DOWN!!! Grrrrrrr

  • Solar a Real Life Study, 1 year Operation 20 Panels PV, Mr. Row
    Real System, Full Year of Energy Production Data, Day by Day

    Solar is incredibly cheap, less than 10% of the cost of buying power from the utility here in Hawaii

    This Actual 20 panel System produces at 3.3 cents per kWH. Larger systems like 30 panels can be under 2.9 cents.

    You can download the Excel here—-Day by Day energy production data

  • arclight arclight

    United States Government Accountability Office
    Report to Congressional Requesters
    DOE Can Use Lessons
    Learned to Improve
    Oversight of Other
    Sites’ Cleanup

    "One of the most difficult decontaminating challenges DOE and the
    contractor overcame was decontaminating concrete. When concrete
    became contaminated with liquid radioactive waste (e.g., by spills during
    nuclear material processing or waste disposal), the past practice was to fix the contamination in place using sometimes several layers of an epoxy
    paint. Before a building containing contaminated concrete could be
    demolished, this paint had to be removed down to the base material, and
    the base material had to be decontaminated. The contractor removed the
    contaminated paint using various methods such as scabbling, shaving, or
    hydolasing. Scabbling chipped away the first layer of the surface with a
    pneumatic hammer; however, this option created dust and increased the
    potential for the release of contaminants into the air. Shaving removed
    layers of concrete with a machine, and was considered more efficient and
    less hazardous than hydrolasing for decontaminating concrete surfaces
    with deeper contamination."

    lol! 🙁

    "Our review showed that, overall, the contractor
    generally followed these data quality controls and clearly documented its compliance with them for the four accelerated cleanup actions we reviewed in depth. (you reckon?? arc)

    For these four cleanup actions—at building 771, the 903 pad, the 903 lip area, and trench T-7—we assessed the closeout reports and the data supporting them to determine the extent to which the data collection and laboratory analyses adhered to data quality standards and procedures. We did not, however, evaluate the remedial data or laboratory analyses themselves."

    that last a "get out" statement??

  • arclight arclight

    29 May 2002
    by David L. Clark, Los Alamos National Laboratory

    "The Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site (RFETS) is an environmental cleanup site located about 16 miles northwest of downtown Denver (Fig 1). Two decades of routine monitoring have shown that the environment around RFETS is contaminated with actinide elements (U, Pu, Am) from site operations, [1] and RFETS has been designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a Superfund cleanup site. Until December 1989, the Rocky Flats Plant made components for nuclear weapons using various radioactive and hazardous materials, including plutonium, uranium and beryllium."

    "The key priority of site management and surrounding community leaders is the safe, accelerated closure of Rocky Flats. Kaiser-Hill and the DOE, working in close coordination with Rocky Flats stakeholders, are working on a plan to substantially complete the cleanup and closure of Rocky Flats by the aggressive goal of 2006. The closure of Rocky Flats is estimated to cost between $6 billion and $8 billion. [2]

    The spatial distribution of plutonium in RFETS soils has been estimated,[3,4] with plutonium activities in surface soils ranging from 1,450 to 0.05 pCi/g, with the data showing a clear west-east trend away from an old drum storage site known as the 903 Pad. [5] More than 90% of the Pu is contained within the upper 10-12 cm of soils downwind of the 903 Pad….."

  • Duck and cover… Astonishing video shows U.S. 'ground grunt' guinea pigs taking part in atomic bomb tests in the 1950s… with only trenches to protect them from radiation–Astonishing-video-shows-U-S-ground-grunt-guinea-pigs-taking-atomic-bomb-tests-1950s–trenches-protect-radiation.html

  • xstatic

    I'm sure everyone here has seem this.

    This was to protect us?

    • HoTaters HoTaters

      Actually I'd never seen this. Pretty scarey …. Seeing it visually really puts it into perspective. Idiotic to do so much testing. What was the point? Fouling our own nest. Beyond idiotic; there are no words!

      Happen to know for a fact NOT all the tests were noted in this video. Worked on a seismic monitoring project in the 1990's and know there were several underground nuclear blasts NOT shown on this video. (Nevada Test Site)

      The group I worked with would analyze seismic signatures of every earthquake in Nevada, and the nuclear test blasts had a distinct "signature." There were probably 10 of them in a couple of years, in the mid-1990's, and I'm sure there were many more ….

    • enoughalready45 enoughalready45


      Thanks for posting the video. I had not seen it.
      I could see that the new "earthquakes" video probably got their idea from this timelapse video.

      Worth watching. Makes me think I shouldn't go anywhere without a geiger counter.

  • Alice Alice

    '….the finding is surprising.."?

    To whom? I'm sure it'll be very convenient for all the radioactive dust to simply go somewhere else but do these numb-skulls know that we live on ONE planet where the atmosphere doesn't have boundaries like you find on a map?

    So what if plutonium has a half life of 24000 years? No one has lived long enough to prove that theory true.

    And they actually expect plutonium to dissipate over time?

  • getoutwhileyoustillcan

    Didn't Arnie Gunderson say on one of his videos, that even the smallest particle of plutonium is nearly guaranteed to cause lung cancer if you inhale it?

  • bleep_hits_blades

    I remember reading that if you have a plutonium particle in your lungs, you are 'married to cancer.' An incredibly tiny amount, a tiny fraction of a gram, is a lethal dose if inhaled.

    In many areas, locals have inhaled 'hot particles' including plutonium, since so much of it was/is blown out of the reactors. Like many areas of Japan, Hawaii, Alaska, and the West Coast – and across the country, and in Europe, to varying degrees depending on winds etc.

    Therefore, many of us are now ticking cancer time bombs. And there is not much we can do about it. I live in Hawaii & am sure I have inhaled quite a few plutonium (and other radio-nuclide) particles.

    Leuren Moret in that recent video showed a model of a plutonium particle. It was a blue ball and had thin white plastic rods coming out of it, all over, like a round porcupine. Each rod indicated a radioactive decay particle being emitted. It bristled with these rods. Very graphic, pretty horrifying.

  • arclight arclight

    This Is How "Decontamination" Is Done (CBS News, Jan.16, 2012) 【日本語字幕付き】

    A news report by CBS news on January 16, 2012, about a decontamination effort in MInami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture.

    The original video:

    • ageezerofgiza

      It might be ok if the fallout had stopped, but since it hasn't, it will contaminate again. So what will they do then? Dig it up again and so on ad infinitum? In the modern jargon – EPIC FAIL.

  • Kewaunee Nuke Plant, Wisconsin

    Trouble is, they are losing tens of millions a year.

    Madison Wisconsin is not longer going to buy power from them. Madison is buying power from PV owners and running their own natural gas turbines.

    Do you think they will run this plant to the epitome of safety, or do you think they will cut corners?

    They want to sell this thing, to some slum lord.

    Great, slumlords running nuke plants.

  • jec jec

    IF its that safe..just gather up some of the dirt and GIVE it to EPA. What this tells me is the contractor does not want to be checked out. Sounds like TEPCO and Japan, only its XXX and USA. Its the Dog Eat Dog DOD Pentagon project to clean up nuclear/hazardous sites like Johnston Island!

  • Sickputer

    Deny, and lie. Our federal government at work killing us all. The state and local governments are tired of the crappy confrontational attitude of the federal bureaucrats. The feds run by a few big businesses have ruined the beauty and safety of this country. They are sneaky cowards who don't want anyone to find out what they have done to this once beautiful land. I'd like to slap some of the gutless government goons into next week, but they are not worth blstering my hand.

    It pisses me off they overruled Vermont efforts to shut down their unsafe nuclear plant. Big Brother is a bully, but the payback is going to be sweet someday. You don't forget a bully nor forgive them. There will be a second Civil War someday and it won't require cannon balls to free the slaves (all of us). Vote the vast majority of these weasels out of office…vote for new candidates who stand for state rights.

  • gonefission gonefission

    It does get extremely windy near the flats, Several occasions where employee cars got windows blown out and numerous semi trucks have been blown on their sides. sustained in the 50's mph gusts up to 130 mph. So I guess it must be contaminated in layers?
    Coors Rocky mtn spring water is sounded pretty good about now 🙂