for further information, contact: Attorney Pat Mellen (720) 593-3593 or Bob Schaeffer (239) 395-6773
for release at 11:30am MST, Thursday, January 10, 2019 LEGAL PETITION FILED TO UNSEAL ROCKY FLATS GRAND JURY RECORDS; DOCUMENTS DESCRIBING BURIED CONTAMINATION MAY HELP RESOLVE CURRENT PUBLIC POLICY DEBATES
Leaders of Rocky Flats community groups filed a legal Petition in U.S. District Court today calling on the government to unseal records from the 1989 -1992 Special Federal Grand Jury investigation into criminal actions at the former Denver-area nuclear weapons plant. The petitioners argue that the documents may provide evidence of unreported and unaddressed residual plutonium contamination and other ongoing environmental dangers at Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge and the adjoining Superfund site. They say this information is critical to resolving policy controversies, such as construction of the Rocky Flats Refuge trails and visitor center, Jefferson Parkway, Rocky Mountain Greenway, and fracking permits.
According to the petition, “The documents gathered by the Grand Jury and now under seal are a unique resource that provides the detailed evidence of whether specific locations or hot spots of unremediated or undiscovered hazardous substances must outweigh a site-wide ‘safe’ determination made for other purposes. While theoretically statistically defensible, that site-wide “safe” determination will be small comfort should an unfortunate construction worker put a backhoe shovel into a buried 55-gallon barrel of plutonium-laced transuranic waste that eluded the collection of the five (5) samples in that 30-acre quadrant.”
The Grand Jury records, sealed by federal court rules, were gathered as part of an investigation into Rocky Flat’s managing contractor Rockwell International. Rockwell pled guilty to ten federal environmental law violations and eventually paid a $18.5 million fine. Grand Jury records can be unsealed when the information is relevant to pending or potential litigation.
Jon Lipsky, the former Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent who led the raid that shut down Rocky Flats for environmental crimes explained, “The documents could assist Rocky Flats nuclear workers with their unique compensation claims and the concerns of residents living downwind of Rocky Flats.”
Environmental attorney Pat Mellen, who represents the petitioners, added, “The Grand Jury documents offer a unique opportunity to evaluate the cleanup and bridge the gap between concerned community groups and advocates for aggressive economic development. We look forward to ending the current standoff over Rocky Flats’ future and moving this conversation forward in a more productive, evidence-driven way.”
Petitioners include: Alliance of Nuclear Workers Advocacy Groups, Rocky Flats Downwinders, Candelas Glows/Rocky Flats Glows, Environmental Information Network, Rocky Flats Neighborhood Association, Rocky Flats Right to Know and Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center.
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A copy of the Petition and supplemental documents are available on request