2nd suit chal­lenges refuge at ex-nuke weapons plant

Colorado town raises ques­tions on safety at Rocky Flats site

Albuquerque Journal - - OBITUARIES - AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

SU­PE­RIOR, Colo. — A Colorado town near a for­mer nu­clear weapons plant has filed a law­suit to keep part of the site from open­ing to the pub­lic as a wildlife refuge.

The town of Su­pe­rior asked a fed­eral judge to keep the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice from open­ing Rocky Flats Na­tional Wildlife Refuge, say­ing the agency hasn’t ad­e­quately stud­ied safety, the Boul­der Daily Cam­era re­ported Fri­day.

Agency of­fi­cials de­clined to com­ment.

It was the se­cond law­suit seek­ing to keep the refuge closed. A group of en­vi­ron­men­tal and com­mu­nity ac­tivists filed a sim­i­lar challenge ear­lier this year. A hear­ing in that case is sched­uled for Tues­day in Denver fed­eral court.

Rocky Flats was used to man­u­fac­ture plu­to­nium trig­gers for nu­clear bombs from 1952 un­til 1989 on a wind-swept mesa about 16 miles west of down­town Denver.

Af­ter a $7 bil­lion cleanup of the man­u­fac­tur­ing area, the site’s buf­fer zone — about 8 square miles — was turned over to the Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice for a refuge. The ser­vice plans to build trails, a vis­i­tors cen­ter and open the refuge to the pub­lic this year.

The northeast cor­ner of the refuge is ad­ja­cent to the south­west cor­ner of Su­pe­rior.

Su­pe­rior’s law­suit, filed Tues­day, raises con­cerns that vis­i­tors to the refuge could dis­turb the soil and carry con­tam­i­nants off the site.

The Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice and the Colorado health de­part­ment have said the refuge is safe.

The cen­tral area where plu­to­nium was pro­cessed is un­der the con­trol of the U.S. En­ergy De­part­ment and won’t be open to the pub­lic. It covers about 2 square miles.

DAN EL­LIOTT/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Vis­i­tors ap­proach a for­mer ranch house and barn dur­ing a guided hike on the Rocky Flats Na­tional Wildlife Refuge near Denver in Au­gust 2017.

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