Researchers find plutonium particles in soil near Rocky Flats

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Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge.

DENVER (KDVR) – Researchers from Northern Arizona University (NAU) found extensive plutonium “hot” particles in soil near the former Rocky Flats nuclear site. Particles this size can be inhaled and lodged in lung tissue, increasing risk of radioactive exposure from inhalation.

Researchers Michael Ketterer and Scott Szechenyi from (NAU) concluded, “These particles are found to be pervasive in non-US Government land east of Rocky Flats, and it is reasonable to believe that ongoing wind transport is continuing to spread the contamination across open space used by the public, and toward residential areas.”

Surface soil was collected from the Jefferson County right-of-way property immediately west of Indiana Street in 2019.

The researchers identified 40 “hot particles.” Their report noted, “Particles in this size range are referred to as respirable, indicating that they can be inhaled and lodged in lung tissue on a long-term basis. Plutonium dioxide particles contained within the lungs will release their alpha decay energy within a small volume of affected tissue, producing localized internal doses of radioactivity.”

Activists from the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center seek a stop of plans to construct the Jefferson Parkway and Rocky Mountain Greenway.

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