Rocky Flats plutonium hotspot `appears to be an outlier'

State reports 25 nearby samples show safe levels

Staff report
Posted 10/11/19

The most recent batch results in an ongoing soil study east of former nuclear weapons plant Rocky Flats came back Oct. 1, testing for plutonium levels well within the government-established safety …

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Rocky Flats plutonium hotspot `appears to be an outlier'

State reports 25 nearby samples show safe levels

Posted

The most recent batch results in an ongoing soil study east of former nuclear weapons plant Rocky Flats came back Oct. 1, testing for plutonium levels well within the government-established safety measures.

Earlier in the summer, one August sample of the area registered a reading of 264 pCi/g of plutonium — the established safety measure is 50 pCi/g or less — but this result “appears to be an outlier,” said Laura Dixon, communications manager with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). When tested again, the sample showed less than 2 pCi/g.

25 additional locations near the August sample were tested, Dixon said, with each new sample analyzed using two different methods. The new results primarily ranged from about 0.1 pCi/g to 3 pCi/g, with the highest reading in the corridor weighing in at 3.67 pCi/g, she said.

The study originally started with several entities, including Jefferson County and the Jefferson Parkway Public Highway Authority (JPPHA), which sought to confirm the area was safe for construction projects, including the Jefferson Parkway. Parkway planners have routed the proposed road alongside the former Rocky Flats site near Indiana Street; the August hotspot sample was found in the parkway's proposed path.

The JPPHA said it has no statement about the new samples. JPPHA leaders have said they are waiting on the completion of the entire study, which will include approximately 250 samples, and direction from the CDPHE, before determining next steps.

Testing is scheduled to run through the end of the year.

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