Morning Briefing - January 14, 2019
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January 14, 2019

Groups Seek Information on Closure of Rocky Flats Weapons Plant

By ExchangeMonitor

Several advocacy groups have filed a petition asking a U.S. District Court to make public certain grand jury records from a long-closed investigation into the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant site in Colorado.

In June 1989, the Justice Department, the FBI, and the Environmental Protection Agency jointly conducted a raid at Rocky Flats, seizing 135 boxes of records. Another 49 boxes were taken from DOE offices in Albuquerque, N.M. Two months later a special grand jury was convened to look into alleged environmental violations at the site, the petition says.

The grand jury investigation ended after a March 1992 plea agreement in which weapons plant contractor Rockwell International pleaded guilty to criminal breaches of environmental law, including laws covering hazardous waste and water. The company eventually paid a $18.5 million fine.

The groups said Thursday they believe the former Energy Department site was prematurely declared safe in September 2006 in part because of inadequate sampling to demonstrate its safety.

In 1997, DOE selected Rocky Flats as an accelerated cleanup site with closure targeted within 10 years. The department awarded the business was to contractor Kaiser-Hill, a joint venture of ICF Kaiser International Inc. and CH2M Hill.

The petitioning groups believe the documents might provide evidence of residual plutonium contamination and other ongoing environmental dangers at land that is now part of the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge.

The petitioning organizations are: the Alliance of Nuclear Workers Advocacy Groups, Rocky Flats Downwinders, Candelas Glows/Rocky Flats Glows, Environmental Information Network, Rocky Flats Neighborhood Association, Rocky Flats Right to Know, and Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center.

Some of these same groups are also plaintiffs in a legal action questioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to open the refuge area surrounding the weapons plant site to the public,  the Associated Press reported.