DENVER (CBS4) – As the effort to close the beltway around Denver creeps closer to a reality, the fight against the Jefferson Parkway is growing.

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“My primary interest was the morality of government potentially exposing residents to plutonium contamination in pursuit of development,” said Randy Stafford, a member of the Jefferson Parkway Advisory Committee.

Stafford joined the committee to bring more light to plutonium contamination in the middle of the parkway. Plans right now from the Jefferson Public Parkway Highway Authority (JPPHA) have the roughly 10-mile toll road connecting Highway 128 near Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport with Highway 93 in west Arvada.

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“It borders the eastern side of the Rocky Flats National Wildlife refuge which was formerly the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant. Even CDOT acknowledges the plutonium and americium contamination there,” Stafford said.

He spent months poring over the public studies available and wrote a 26-page paper for the JPPHA to consider about plutonium contamination around Indiana Street.

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“There have been 10 studies over 50 years that all show plutonium contamination, hundreds of times background radiation not only on the west, but also on the east side of Indiana,” Stafford said.

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CBS4’s Jeff Todd interviews Randy Stafford. (credit: CBS)

The JPPHA says it’s following state and federal officials in calling the area safe and ready for construction. Numerous reports and letters about contamination are posted on the Highway Authority’s website.

Stafford says his letter has moved the JPPHA to consider monitoring soil and air during construction.

“Plutonium dust particles don’t care what side of Indiana they’re on,” said Stafford. “That’s what I’m worried about. That plutonium dust re-suspension in the air from construction will blow down wind and deposit on people’s property and they may inhale it and they may get sick.”

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This month Arvada and Broomfield are schedule to vote on giving the JPPHA $2 million each to continue toward construction. The toll road could break ground in 2020.

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“Historically, Rocky Flats plutonium was found in downtown Denver by Atomic Energy Commission scientists. The prevailing wind condition is from the west-northwest. So the people that live generally around Standley Lake will probably get the most dust deposition on their property,” Stafford said.

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LINK: JPPHA Studies

Jeff Todd