Letters

Underground Railroad
After reading Patricia Calhoun's "Up From the Underground," in the May 21 issue, I wonder if anywhere in this city is safe--above ground or below. Thanks for the alert.

Mae Powers
via the Internet

"Up From the Underground" was a great article with the inclusion of some Colorado history. Actually, it was almost 120 years ago that radioactive carnotite was discovered along the Dolores River while our early pioneers were amassing in their search for gold. Massive flume projects were undertaken only to fail miserably when the gold flecks proved to be too fine and too few. Alas, fame and fortune were yet to be heralded from the area, and the towns of Nucla and Naturita were to be born after the first carnotite samples were sent off--first to Denver and then to France, to be prodded by Pierre Curie and his sister Marie. Thus the age of nuclear study had begun, and for almost fifty years, Colorado was the leading world supplier of radioactive materials. But by the 1930s, cheaper sources became available from the Belgian Congo, and Denver's radioactive element sales petered out.

How ironic that we found so many new ways to contaminate the area with even more lethal strains of garbage. And once the market for nerve gas and nuclear triggers dwindled away like the market for carnotite, our feline instincts were rejuvenated and we solved the problem by scratching a hole and burying our defecation. Unfortunately, simple solutions don't always work for complex problems. As long as we simply bury the past, we'll likely have to bury more dead as well.

Nowadays, Nucla and Naturita are quiet. The Dolores River still churns through the rubble of a bygone era, picking up radioactive materials, carrying them downstream to the Colorado River and eventually into every source of irrigation, water supply and recreational area that lies along the route from Colorado to Southern California. No one thinks about it anymore, though.

I'm glad Patricia Calhoun shared that column with us. Westword is a great weekly. Some may not have an appreciation for the honesty in its journalism, but that's their problem. I'm glad you do what you do, and I think most of the sane and thinking people of Colorado do, also.

Cal Anton
Torrance, CA

Thank you for writing about the Shattuck site, which is a stone's throw from the house I purchased in 1995. I came here from Long Island, where we had spent ten years closing down the nuclear plant of Shoreham. Imagine my surprise when I was invited to a meeting of the neighborhood to discuss the Shattuck matter. I was devastated in view of the fact that the real estate agent who assisted me in selecting my new home never mentioned the fact that this deadly plot was so close to me. I knew many years ago, of course, about the uranium problems after WWII. I learned a lot about this when I was doing my undergraduate work at State University of New York in the Seventies. In fact, I found out that the only state in the Union with no nuclear problems is Wyoming.

I attended several meetings and suggested that in view of the fact that the mayor and our councilman, Mr. Himmelman, were both very much in favor of clearing the site as had been allowed for by the Superfund designation, we somehow should hire a good lawyer, create an escrow account and withhold our taxes so that something could be discussed. Nothing ever came of this. Most people were not willing to do anything, it seemed. I wonder whether we would have any power in August at the ballot box? What do we do next? Why has the Superfund not come through for us? Has it dried up?

I have encountered so much of this failure to take responsibility that I sometimes feel I am a failure. But I can never give up, and if there is something we can do, I feel we should make the effort.

Heather Muir Stanley
Denver

The Battle Over Sand Creek
Regarding Harrison Fletcher's "Battle Cry" on the Sand Creek Massacre, in the May 28 issue, it's interesting how Duane Smith justifies the horrific actions that took place in 1864. It's easy to see why today Colorado is known as "The Hate State"--still.

People like Duane Smith, Tom Noel and Mike Koury keep the hate-state legacy alive.

I am ashamed.
P.J. Methgarb
Littleton

Why debate if Sand Creek was a massacre? Two congressional committees and one Army panel investigated the incident at Sand Creek right after it happened and concluded that it was. Killing women and children, raping, tearing the unborn out of pregnant women and cutting off body parts as trophies does not represent just war, they ruled.

Though never proved, Westword stated as fact that four Arapahos murdered the Hungate family. Whites or Indians could have committed the murders. Isn't it suspect that the bodies were hauled thirty miles to Denver to be put on circus-like display? Westword hinted that Chivington's actions brought peace to the plains, when in actuality, all hell broke loose. The Indians banded together and retaliated with great loss of life and money for the whites.

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