By Rick Sallinger

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – An elevated level of plutonium was recorded near the eastern edge of Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge. The area is part of a future four lane tollway which would complete the C-470 loop.

(credit: CBS)

It’s the same open space where Jeff Staniszewski walked on Monday.

“I think the government should take a very hard look whether or not this is the right thing to do. Is it worth the risk to human life?”

This is not far from what was the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons facility. There they used dangerous plutonium to make the triggers for hydrogen bombs.

(credit: CBS)

“Were you aware that Rock Flats… a nuclear weapons facility was there,” CBS4’s Rick Sallinger asked Staniszewski.

“No,” he replied.

The second test from the sample did not find an elevated level of plutonium. Back in 1957 there was a fire at Rocky Flats in a plutonium processing building which sent plumes of smoke into the air. Another fire occurred on Mother’s Day in 1969.

(credit: CBS)

Torrential rains in 2013 could have carried plutonium through the soil

Bill Ray heads the Jefferson Parkway Public Highway Authority. He showed CBS4 the sample which was found right where the tollway would go.

(credit: CBS)

“They took another piece of the same dirt sample and ran that and came with much different results,” said Ray.

(credit: CBS)

So now it’s up to the state’s health department to analyze those samples and determine if it was just a false positive, or something much more dangerous. The department issued the following statement:

In June, the department provided the Jefferson Parkway Public Highway Authority (JPPHA) with information on applicable regulatory requirements and recommendations for best practices should construction of the parkway commence. As a department, we have been engaged with the neighborhood, and we crafted the recommendations in response to community concerns. We only now received the information about this sample and we will review the data closely to determine how to proceed in a way that is most protective of public health. CDPHE has been in contact with DOE and EPA regarding the sample and will continue to work closely with our federal partners. 

Based on the information we have now, we don’t believe there is an immediate public health threat, but we are going to continue to examine and analyze the data in the coming days once we have further information. 

Rick Sallinger

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