State: Repairs made to Rocky Flats Waste site

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DENVER — Temporary repairs have been made to a landfill at the Rocky Flats nuclear waste site, but state officials said Tuesday they are not certain if the federal government shutdown will delay a permanent fix.

Cracks were discovered on a protective layer of clay that covers a landfill, which has plutonium residue left behind from the site.

Smith said repairs have been made to the landfill and “The department will be reviewing and approving designs for the permanent repair.”

However, he added “It’s unclear how the federal government shutdown will affect timing of the permanent repairs.”

“In the meantime, the landfill is secure and does not pose a risk to human health or the environment,” Smith said.

Tests showed no plutonium contamination, but there is always that possibility, said Carl Spreng, the Rocky Flats Coordinator for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The state has tested water samples around the site to see if there was any contamination. Those results are expected in a couple of weeks, said CDPHE spokesman Warren Smith.

Kristen Iverson used to work at the plant and grew up by the nuclear weapons facility.

“There was so much contamination, the Department of Energy, declared it the most contaminated site in America,” Iverson said.

She said the recent floods probably took plutonium residue off the site and into two creeks that run off the site.

“I think people should be concerned,” she said from Memphis, where she is now a college professor. “There was a great deal of water coming off the site. Keep in mind it is an area of high erosion.”

Last week FOX31 Denver checked out the area, focusing on Woman and Walnut Creek. Visually, you can see where water levels were higher than normal — weeds by the shoreline bent back by the heavy waters from the storms more than two weeks ago.

The state, along with the Department of Energy, monitors ten water sampling stations around Rocky Flats, looking for any residue of plutonium that may come off the site. Spreng said the majority of those sampling sites are by the two creeks and are carefully monitored.

“The residue amounts we worry (about) might get into surface water, that’s why we carefully and constantly monitor the surface water,” he said.

CDPHE also said water from the site is diverted to the South Platte and does not enter the drinking water system.

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