Skip to content

If you go

What: There Is No Refuge From Nuclear War or Nuclear Waste: Rocky Flats In Context panel discussion

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Naropa, 2130 Arapaho Road, Boulder

Cost: Free

More info:

Hot plutonium particles definitely are not cool.

They are to be avoided, although with past nuclear activities, we all are at risk. As Kate Bush sings, “Chips of plutonium are twinkling in every lung.”

Rocky Flats, on a windy plateau 8 miles south of Boulder, was home to a plutonium pit factory. Every pit, the core of a nuclear weapon in the U.S. nuclear arsenal, was fabricated at the Rocky Flats plant over 40 years, from 1952 to 1989, totaling more than 70,000 pits. Each pit if fractured into breathable particles contains enough plutonium to harm the health of every person on earth. The area was “cleaned up” after production was stopped and declared “safe” by the EPA, the DOE and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. All admit there is still an unknown quantity of plutonium dusting and buried at the site, and presumably their fingers are crossed that plutonium does not migrate.

But it does — from burrowing animals bringing up tons of soil a year laced with plutonium and from wind, water and snow. Any disturbance of the soil undoubtedly releases hot particles.

At least, let’s minimize risk of exposure and keep people, especially kids, away from Rocky Flats.

But wait! The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a plan that will maximize exposure to hot plutonium particles. They intend to open the site to the public tomorrow for recreation, hiking and biking. Think of cyclists on a windy day with clouds of possibly radioactive dust swirling up from their tires. Or consider families sitting on the ground happily consuming a sticky picnic.

Strangely, given its invisible alpha particles, Rocky Flats is luxuriously beautiful — it has some of the last remaining tall grass prairie, undulating in the winds like an inland ocean. And it is filled with wildlife, looking like a true haven for animals and humans. It is not.

There are signals of growing awareness. A “terrifyingly brilliant book,” “Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats,” by Kristen Iversen, is being read all over the world. In it, Iversen describes the institutionalized deceptions of the government at the plant throughout its tenure and the deadly contamination. This may waken people to the dangers.

The town of Superior, east of Rocky Flats, has a lawsuit asking for an injunction to stop the Fish and Wildlife Service from opening the refuge until a careful, full environmental impact determination has been made — another indication of an awakening public.

Join the awakening and resist. Hot particles are not cool.

Come to a panel discussion: There Is No Refuge From Nuclear War or Nuclear Waste: Rocky Flats In Context at 7 p.m. Saturday at Naropa, 2130 Arapaho Road in Boulder.

And join the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center at

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

Join the Conversation

We invite you to use our commenting platform to engage in insightful conversations about issues in our community. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable to us, and to disclose any information necessary to satisfy the law, regulation, or government request. We might permanently block any user who abuses these conditions.