Sing, You Sinners!

The sounds of silence at CU.

"I am writing to ask if your agencies have examined these allegations and if so, what has been done to address the cleanup of materials and areas that relate to these allegations," Udall wrote in a letter dated March 16, shortly after the book's release stirred up renewed questions over the Justice Department's twelve-year-old settlement with Rockwell International ("Toxic Shocker!" March 11).

Citing the confidential nature of grand jury proceedings in his response to Udall, EPA regional administrator Robert Roberts declined to deal with some of the book's charges, including the alleged midnight burning of toxic waste, noting that "a report summarizing the buffer zone sampling results will be available in late 2004. Although this investigation was not done because of the alleged illegal incineration activities discussed in this book, this type of sampling and analysis, and subsequent cleanup if needed, will assure that the site will be safe for a refuge worker and all those that visit the refuge. The incinerator itself has been removed and disposed of as radioactive waste."

CDPHE executive director Doug Benevento took on two of the book's allegations. "With respect to the claims concerning the use of the incinerator, the department is confident that the comprehensive soil sampling that has occurred and continues to be conducted at the site would identify any dispersed environmental contamination from an incinerator in this building," he wrote. Brever, who believes she was involved in that illegal incineration, has also charged that toxic wastes were sprayed on portions of the site; according to Benevento, "a corrective action decision/record of decision for the west spray fields was issued in September 1995, and No Further Action was warranted."

The U.S. Department of Fish & Wildlife will soon take over the Rocky Flats site from the Department of Energy and turn it into a wildlife refuge; the department is taking comments on the proposal until April 26 at http://rockyflats.fws.gov. But Roberts has already offered this assurance to Udall: "We are confident that once all remediation activities are complete and the remedy is operating properly and successfully, that the site will be safe for the refuge worker and all that visit the site."

In drafting the legislation that made the refuge possible, Udall and Senator Wayne Allard pushed for some public access, and aide Lawrence Pacheco says Udall is confident that the cleanup in the buffer zone will be at "the highest level." As for other allegations in the book, "Our office has encouraged the sources for those accusations to go to the EPA and the health department, so that they can continue to vigorously go about the cleanup process."

And with that, the whistleblowers' hopes that Udall would help unseal the secrets of Rocky Flats fell flat. "Perhaps you are unaware that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service refused to consider our comments," McKinley and Balkany wrote Udall last week. "Despite receiving copies of The Ambushed Grand Jury, no one from any health agency, EPA or CDPHE has asked us to provide the information about the location of some of the contamination we discuss in the book. In light of your request, however, Jacque Brever, who worked in plutonium operations at Rocky Flats for ten years, will be glad to accompany you and any health officials you choose to Rocky Flats, in the presence of the media, to show the places where she is aware that contaminated wastes were dumped in areas proposed to be open to recreation.

"Appropriate personal protection gear would be required."

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