PSR leads lawsuit against proposed Rocky Flats trail January 29, 2024

Physicians for Social Responsibility, together with PSR Colorado and four other Colorado environmental organizations, have initiated legal proceedings against U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, and four federal bodies. The lawsuit, filed in the federal district court of the District of Columbia, seeks to stop the construction of an 8-mile recreational pathway in the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge.

This legal challenge raises serious questions about the compliance of the project with the National Environmental Policy Act, particularly concerning the potential health risks due to the area’s history of plutonium contamination. The plaintiffs argue that the environmental and health evaluations for the project, known as the Greenway Project, inadequately addressed these risks. The focal point of their concern is the planned path through the section of the refuge most contaminated with plutonium, raising alarms about public safety and environmental impact.

Highlighting the contentious history of the Rocky Flats Plant, once a hub for nuclear weapons production, the lawsuit underscores the legacy of pollution and the subsequent risks involved. The facility, which operated from 1952 until its closure in 1989 following an environmental law enforcement raid, has left a lasting impact on the area, notably through widespread plutonium contamination. Despite an earlier study in 2016 that considered alternative, less contaminated routes, the chosen path for the Greenway Project still traverses the most polluted parts of the refuge. This decision has been met with increased scrutiny and concern, especially after the discovery of alarmingly high plutonium levels in a recent soil sample near the proposed trail. Despite opposition from local communities and changes in support from nearby municipalities, the project has persisted. The lawsuit, spearheaded by attorney Randall Weiner, aims to bring a halt to construction and compel a reevaluation of the path to ensure public safety and environmental preservation.

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