New documents about plutonium levels, relocated prairie dogs filed in Rocky Flats case

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Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge.

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DENVER -- Plaintiffs concerned with prairie dogs and plutonium at the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge say they filed new paperwork about their worries in a federal court case that has gone on for more than a year.

“I know the judge is busy. We have not gotten a ruling yet, so I hope that he is still open to the supplemental brief. We think it’s important, and we hope he thinks it’s important too,” said Annmarie Cording, an associate attorney representing a group of environmental organizations in the case.

Although both sides completed their arguments about a year ago, Cording says there are new concerns that the refuge is relocating prairie dogs to the property and that a recent soil sample taken in the area showed higher than acceptable levels of plutonium.

“This new recent soil sample is actually five times higher than the EPA’s cleanup standard,” said Cording.

The groups she represents have been pushing for a “fresh” environmental assessment of the area and believed one should have been done prior to opening the area for hiking and other activities last year.

“Prairie dogs can burrow down up to 16 feet, and when they come back up to the surface, they can bring contaminated soil with them, and 16 feet is where the plutonium is,” said Cording of the former nuclear site.

FOX31 contacted the Department of Justice, which represents the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, but did not receive an official statement.

The government has previously said the refuge is suitable for unlimited use for unlimited use and unrestricted exposure.

Lori Jane Gliha wrote this report.

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