Sister Sludge

Activist Adrienne Anderson stirs up the sewage board with a warning on plutonium.

"We needed to get their attention," says Dunn. "The driver said, 'What am I supposed to do with all this shit?'"

The commissioners finally agreed to temporarily allow the delivery of the sludge. A public meeting will be held at the county courthouse in Kiowa next month before the commissioners make a final decision.

"It's a big scam they're using to dump Denver's waste in Elbert County," Dunn says. "If you saw what they're dumping out there, it would make you sick. It looks like black asphalt. Now they're talking about putting the Lowry Landfill plutonium out there. It's just not a good thing."

However, Herman insists that not only is there no plutonium at Lowry, there is also no risk from the chemicals the Lowry groundwater will add to the sludge. "The level of inorganic chemicals Lowry would contribute to the biosolids are almost immeasurable," he says.

Meanwhile, Anderson's militant stance has made her unpopular with fellow boardmembers. Denver City Councilman Ted Hackworth, who serves on the wastewater board, calls Anderson a troublemaker. "She hurls charges without much validity," he says. "When they put the effluent in the system it will be monitored, and if it violates the standards, it won't be accepted. There's no threat to Metro or its workers or the people in eastern Colorado. She doesn't seem to understand that."

In April, board chairman Dick Plastino wrote Anderson a letter threatening her with censure if she didn't precede all of her public comments with the disclaimer that she was speaking only for herself. Anderson responded by complaining to the U.S. Department of Labor, claiming that Plastino's letter was a violation of federal laws protecting whistleblowers.

The investigator who heard the case ruled in Anderson's favor and ordered the board to publicly rescind two letters containing the threat of censure. The Metro board is appealing that decision, and legal bills are mounting. The case will go before an administrative law judge next month.

"The place is a cesspool of threats and intimidation," Anderson says of the Metro district. After going public with her claim of plutonium contamination at Lowry, Anderson says, she was immediately hassled by fellow boardmembers.

"They went berserk," she says. "Ted Hackworth started yelling that this was a thing that had already been decided." Now Anderson hopes to receive some vindication in her complaint to the labor department. If the initial ruling is upheld, Metro will have to pay her legal bills. And she believes that's only fair.

"They launched a defamation campaign to portray me as a wacko," she says.

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