Not in Their Backyard

They collected 7,000 signatures from neighbors demanding a complete cleanup. They wrote Bill Clinton, who passed their letter on to the EPA, which defended its decision to go with on-site remediation--even though that will create an unprecedented, federally endorsed toxic dump. They hired experts who determined that the Shattuck site's monitoring was faulty, that contaminants were appearing in storm sewers off Santa Fe Drive, that even in less violent weather than last week's floods, dangerous chemicals could reach the South Platte and dirty the city's pretty new centerpiece. They sued to protest the insufficient monitoring--an action still pending in U.S. District Court.

And for that, even improved monitoring may not be enough. A report from a federal toxic-substance agency recommends that "the City of Denver, with support of the State of Colorado, should institute long-term land-use controls to prevent use of properties within 1/4 mile of the Shattuck property for uses other than industrial/commercial or existing uses. Residential and child-care facilities should not be allowed on or adjacent to the Shattuck company."

But the city took it further still. Having lost in court, the Denver City Council voted in May to place a referendum on the August 11 ballot that asks Colorado's congressional delegates to force a complete federal cleanup of Shattuck.

The neighbors are out in force this week to push the measure and plan a rally Sunday at Shattuck to talk--not science (although they now know all about picocuries and gamma rays), not economics (although they know all about declining property values), not politics (although they have their suspicions), but simple morality. "The bottom line," says Anthony, "is should we be burying radioactive wastes in a neighborhood?

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