U.S. Transportation Sec. Buttigieg, Fish & Wildlife Service Sued by PSR, Rocky Flats Groups for Approval of Trail at Former Nuclear Weapons Site January 8, 2024
Plantiffs Say Threats from Escaping Plutonium Were Ignored
Weiner & Cording
3100 Arapahoe Avenue, Suite 202
Boulder, CO 80303
for further information, contact:
Deborah Segaloff, PhD 319 530-1016
Atty. Randall Weiner 303 440-3321
or Bob Schaeffer 239 699-0468
For Immediate Release
Groups seeking to protect the public from contamination at the former Rocky Flats nuclear weapons production facility today filed suit in federal district court in Washington, DC to overturn U.S. agency decisions allowing a trail to be built through a heavily polluted portion of that site. Plaintiffs claim that walkers, bikers, and people in nearby communities would risk exposure to highly radioactive “hot spots” of cancer-causing plutonium that were never cleaned up.
The lawsuit charges the Federal Highway Administration under Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and the Fish and Wildlife Service with refusing to consider evidence of serious public health dangers and failing to consider alternative locations for the trail. The project, known as the Greenway, is currently planned to pass through the “Wind Blown Area” at Rocky Flats. It includes bridges and underpass connection to lands owned by neighboring communities.
The case has national health, safety, and environmental implications. A “hot spot” particle of plutonium with radioactivity measured at five times the safety level has been detected close to the proposed Greenway trail. In a separate lawsuit, Cook v Rockwell, a federal jury found that plutonium from Rocky Flats migrated onto neighboring properties, where it remains “indefinitely” and causes an “increased risk of health problems.” Rocky Flats is the only U.S. government facility ever raided and shuttered by other federal agencies for environmental crimes.
“Our concern is that people using the proposed Greenway will be exposed to dangerous levels of plutonium and other toxic substances,” explained Deborah Segaloff, PhD, a board member of Physicians for Social Responsibility Colorado, a plaintiff in the case. “Public access could also transport contaminants off site.” Segaloff is a retired Professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Iowa School of Medicine. She worked with radioactivity for her entire career.
Christopher Allred from the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center plaintiff group added, “Federal agencies have failed to protect public health in the Greenway project. Promoting public recreation is no excuse for potentially exposing people to plutonium contamination.”
Attorney Randall Weiner concluded, “The goal of our lawsuit is to stop construction of the Greenway through heavily contaminated portions of Rocky Flats until Federal agencies fairly consider alternative trail routes.” Plaintiffs are asking the court to halt all work on the Greenway project and require federal agencies to review plans consistent with the National Environmental Policy Act and Administrative Procedures Act.
Other plaintiffs include the Environmental Information Network and Rocky Flats Downwinders.
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– A copy of the lawsuit complaint is available on request.