CU Wild Club’s Q&A raised questions of safety in proposed refuge at a reclaimed nuclear power plant site.
CU Wild, an environmentally based student club, hosted the event with experts LeRoy Moore and Andrew Gansky of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center in order to discuss the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge Tuesday evening.
The discussion raises many questions over the safety of opening the refuge to public utility. Concerns stem from the fact that the area was once the site of a nuclear plant.
According to LeRoy Moore, head of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, while the Rocky Flats Plant was in production, its primary export was plutonium.
As the radioactive half-life of this highly toxic material is approximately a quarter of a million years, it is Moore’s strong opinion that unsafe levels of plutonium may still exist in the Rocky Flats environment.
“The clean-up was cheaper in dollars, not necessarily in public health or environmental integrity,” Moore said during the presentation.
Similarly, Andrew Gansky, intern to the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center and a senior humanities major, said he is hesitant to believe that the public is safe in the area.
“More vulnerable populations, such as children, the elderly and pregnant women, will have access to a site still contaminated with radioactive waste without even the benefit of signage to warn them of potential risks,” Gansky said.
While activists such as Moore and Gansky believe levels of plutonium may still be present, it is the opinion of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the area will be safe for public recreation.
Members of the CU Wild Club understand the importance of the issue to Boulder citizens and CU students.
“The proximity of Rocky Flats to the Boulder area makes it an especially interesting and relevant topic,” said Anna Lieb, Wildlands Projects Director for CU Wild. “I hope that this Q&A will provide a setting for an honest and open dialogue about the issues in question, and provide the opportunity for students and citizens to learn more about the issues and voice their own opinions.”
Although varied opinions are held on the subject, several students in attendance at the presentation said they are in agreement with Moore and Gansky.
“LeRoy was right when he said, ‘Doing nothing is doing something,’” said freshman psychology major Shannon Mullen.
Gansky says that the debate lies with whether or not the site still poses health risks.
“A great many CU students will probably visit the area to hike, bike or ride horseback,” said Gansky. “And they could unwittingly be exposed to dangerous substances.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Colleen Smith at Colleen.email@example.com.