By Rick Sallinger

DENVER (CBS4) – Federal Judge Philip Brimmer will now decide whether to allow the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge to open on schedule this September. Opponents are asking for a preliminary injunction claiming the site on what once was a buffer for a nuclear weapons facility needs further testing and is just not safe.

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Armed with familiar signs, demonstrators took their plea to federal court.

There Elizabeth Panzer, a mom on a mission, took the witness stand. She lives two miles away from the property.

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She knew of the former plant that made nuclear bomb triggers with plutonium. She did not expect her son to become ill. She did not wish to show his picture.

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger interviews Elizabeth Panzer. (credit: CBS)

“Four years ago we discovered a massive tumor in my son’s heart,” she told CBS 4 investigator Rick Sallinger. “There is no cure for it.”

She believes the facility is responsible for her son’s illness despite a massive cleanup before her family moved into their home.

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“When my son was diagnosed, a neighbor came knocking at my door. She found me through a mutual friend because her husband had been diagnosed with a rare form of heart cancer.”

Now she is among those asking a judge to block the opening of a National Wildlife Refuge with hiking and bike trails. Testimony was presented by opponents saying the planned trails have been moved into areas that possibly still had deadly plutonium.

Federal and state authorities have repeatedly insisted it is safe.

Dave Lucas of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been repeating his message at a series of public meetings.

“We would not open the Rocky Flats if we didn’t think it was safe for employees and visitors.”

He says testing has shown the refuge grounds to be at safe levels.

RELATED: Rocky Flats Story Archive

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.


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