Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Pueblo nuclear power plant proposal radiates with fear from Japan and Rocky Flats fallout

Yes, timing is everything. Last night, opponents of a proposed nuclear power plant in Pueblo County pointed to the situation in Japan as just one reason to stop the project. And tonight, experts will talk about how nukes already resulted in plutonium contamination outside the former Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant in Jefferson County, sixteen miles upwind of Denver.

In April 2010, Marco Kaltofen, the Boston Chemical Data Corp. employee who heads Worcester Polytechnic Institute's investigations into nuclear releases, detected plutonium in dust collected by a citizens group from a crawl space in a house downwind of Rocky Flats. His discovery was revealed at a press conference at the Capitol last August by Wes McKinley, the state rep who served as the foreman of the grand jury convened two decades ago to investigate alleged environmental crimes at Rocky Flats, which had been raised by the FBI in 1989.

Kaltofen will be joined tonight by biologist Harvey Nichols, who examined airborne radioactive particles released from Rocky Flats in the mid-1970s, and meteorologist W. Gale Biggs, who assessed air monitoring at Rocky Flats.

Today, Rocky Flats is in the process of being turned into a wildlife refuge -- just like the former Rocky Mountain Arsenal, where many dangerous chemicals were processed not just during World War II, but for decades afterward. But the arsenal, too, saw its share of disasters. In fact, there were earthquakes in the area back in the late '60s -- because one of the schemes for getting rid of dangerous wastes there was to inject them into the ground.

The Rocky Flats presentation, slated for 7:30 p.m. today at the Nalanda Campus of Naropa University, 6287 Arapahoe in Boulder, is the sixth in the six-month Rocky Flats Nuclear Guardianship series co-sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, Naropa University's Environmental Studies program and the Alandi Ashram of Boulder. For details, click here.

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Top 7 ways to improve Colorado tourism: Are you listening, Visit Denver?"

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun