The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service intends to open Rocky Flats for public recreation on Sept. 15.

Push pause! There’s still plutonium there, and all it takes is a tiny particle that may cause cancer.

Billions and billions of tiny alpha particles still exist at Rocky Flats, according to Dr. Harvey Nichols, a biologist and emeritus professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder. During a hearing July 17 in U.S. District Court in Denver, Nichols testified that from 1952 to 1989, the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons facility deposited billions of particles of plutonium per acre onto the surrounding grasslands that now make up the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge, according to an article in The Colorado Independent.

Children are the most vulnerable of all beings to exposure to plutonium. A child is more likely than an adult to stir up dust, eat dirt or scrape a knee or an elbow, all ways of taking in plutonium. As Brittany Gutermuth of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center staff has written recently, “It would be a crime to take a child to Rocky Flats.”

• Their bodies are smaller than adults’ bodies, so any plutonium they might take in has much less mass in which to be distributed or to concentrate.

• Plutonium within a child’s body integrates with the child’s growth and development.

• A child’s normal life span provides ample time for internalized plutonium to harm her or his health.

• There is no safe dose of plutonium, according to John W. Gofman, MD, PhD, professor at University of California at Berkeley.

• There are 18 different kinds of animals like worms and bugs at Rocky Flats that dig down and bring up dirt. Ecologist Shawn Smallwood in a 1996 study of burrowing animals at Rocky Flats identified 18 species that dig 10 to 16 feet below the surface and constantly take surface material down and bring buried material up. In the process, they disturb 11 to 12 percent of surface soil on the site in any given year. Their activity makes plutonium particles available for redistribution by wind, rain, traffic, animal, human and other forces, according to The Blue Line.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should reverse its decision to ever open Rocky Flats to the public. As LeRoy Moore, one of the founders of the Rocky Mountain Peace & Justice Center, has written, “Plutonium and people don’t mix.” Join us to stop the opening. Visit

The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center’s “Peace Train” runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.

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