Denver Federal Center workers demand answers about radioactive waste

Heidi Hemmat KDVR Investigative Reporter

July 29, 2009

LAKEWOOD, Colo. – Would you want to dig up dirt at a former nuclear waste site? That’s what construction crews at the Denver Federal Center site in Lakewood have been doing for the past year.

But what’s worse, some workers tell FOX 31 that they never knew about the radioactive history until they saw our story on the news.

“We were told there was asbestos and lead at the site,” says one worker who wants to remain anonymous.

He says when he and his co-workers learned that lead and asbestos were not the only danger, they became concerned for their health. Health department records show the site was a burial ground for nuclear waste and the soil is also contaminated with Uranium, Arsenic, Beryllium, and other toxic metals.

But that’s not the only grounds for concern. Underneath it all, there is a plume of radioactive groundwater which is also laden with the cancer-causing chemical TCE.

“When we dig holes out there -the water table is so high, we often end up knee deep in groundwater,” says another worker.

Workers were told there would be a “safety meeting” to address their concerns Wednesday. Instead, Saint Anthony hospital officials held a “topping off party” to celebrate a construction milestone at the Federal Center site where the new hospital is being built, along with a new RTD Light Rail center and eventually homes and businesses.

The superintendent of the project, Kevin Fone, told us there was no scheduled safety meeting for Wednesday.

When asked why the workers were never told about all the contamination at the site, he told us to contact their corporate office.

A man who escorted us off the property assured us he would forward our contact information to someone who could answer our questions.

We never received any calls.

The Colorado Department of Health and Environment maintains the federal center site is safe.


How is this related to I-70 expansion?

The government’s own Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) estimates that I-70 expansion construction would disturb over 100 acres of hazardous materials sites where arsenic, lead, and cadmium are stored. It would stir up poisons that threaten workers and community residents’ health.

No to environmental pollution, no to I-70 expansion!

Construction at Denver Federal Center stirs up poisons

Construction at Denver Federal Center stirs up poisons

Fox 31 KDVR.com:

It is home to Colorado’s only Nuclear reactor, radioactive waste was buried there, the groundwater is toxic, and the soil is contaminated with Arsenic, Uranium, Beryllium, Asbestos and explosives.

But the Denver Federal Center site won’t be fenced off for long. It will soon be heavily used be the public.

Follow the link to the full story.

The poisons, carcinogens, and radioactive materials being stirred up threaten the workers as well as community residents.

The radioactive waste… was buried on site for years. The explosives and other toxins date back to an ammunition plant that was built there in 1940’s. The asbestos was left behind when old buildings were demolished and buried on site.

And underneath it all, a plume of water contaminated with the cancer-causing chemical, TCE.

Story from the Denver Post:

Crews are slated to arrive today in south Globeville to begin the final removal of arsenic contamination from 32 properties left by the former Globe smeltering facility.

Some residents of the northeast Denver neighborhood, who have fought for years to have their properties cleaned up, remain skeptical that the work will begin.

After all, it has been 12 years since the lawsuit against Asarco Co., which operated the Globe smeltering plant, was filed. And it has been years since hundreds of their neighbors whose yards measured higher levels of toxic contamination had their lots scrubbed.

The Globeville neighborhood is in north Denver near Elyria and Swansea, and part of the area that I-70 expansion is slated to devastate.

These low-income communities of mostly people of color have been plagued by environmental pollution for decades. The arsenic from the Globe smeltering plant is only the tip of the iceberg.

Story at 9news.com

The Colorado Department of Transportation has estimated any fix to the I-70 corridor from Denver to Grand Junction could cost upwards of $8 billion. The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce says congestion between the two cities costs the state more than $830 million in lost productivity each year.

Earlier estimates offered by Stop I-70 Expansion were based on the costs just in North Denver, and were less than $2 billion. This estimate more than quadruples what we’d stated as the financial cost of I-70 expansion.

The full cost of I-70 is not merely financial, however.  Its most devastating impacts will be on communities, homes, our lives.

Stop I-70 Expansion!