Rocky Flats Right to Know
Started by two grandmothers who live in Arvada, Rocky Flats Right to Know is an organization devoted to Keeping Kids off Rocky Flats and to advocate for permanent signage around the former nuclear weapons plant.
Although there was a cleanup of Rocky Flats completed in 2006, the majority of this cleanup occurred where the nuclear weapons plant manufactured plutonium triggers. This remains an active Nuclear Superfund Site. The buffer zone for the plant, now known as Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge, was transferred to US Fish and Wildlife to manage. Residual contaminants remain and children are especially susceptible to these contaminants.
Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant produced plutonium triggers for every nuclear weapon in the United States Arsenal. During the years the plant operated, about 70,000 nuclear triggers were produced. Each trigger contained enough plutonium to kill every human on the planet, if dispersed and inhaled, ingested or otherwise taken inside the body.
In 1989, the plant was raided by the FBI and EPA, and numerous violations were found. A Grand Jury Investigation followed, but justice was not served. The jury was dismissed and the evidence sealed. Rockwell, which managed the plant for the DOE (Department of Energy), was given a fine about that of their bonus.
Following the raid, the plant ceased production and plans to close the plant began. The original estimate for cleanup was 70 years and $36 billion dollars. An abbreviated cleanup was completed in about 10 years at the cost of about $7 billion dollars. Many contaminants were left in place with a few feet of clean dirt covering the waste.
The majority of the cleanup occurred where the plant manufactured nuclear weapons.* This area is called the Central Operable Unit, or COU. It remains a Superfund site today, with many full-time employees monitoring the buried plutonium, americium, and other toxic substances. The Department of Energy (DOE) calls it Rocky Flats Legacy Management (RFLMA "riff-la-ma")
The area shown in green on the map above is now called the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge. It was the buffer zone for the plant, the Peripheral Operable Unit, or POU. The DOE formerly stated the POU should remain off limits to the public, but instead it was transferred to US Fish and Wildlife in 2006 after the testing done by the DOE showed the land to be safe. There has been no testing in the past decade that proves Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge to be safe for recreation.
*The mayor of Arvada said, "They didn't manufacture nuclear weapons there, just the triggers." Each of the plutonium triggers is a bomb itself, comparable to the bomb dropped on Nagasaki in World War II, which killed approximately 75,000 civilians.