For further information contact:
Arjun Makhijani: (301) 270-5500
Bob Schaeffer: (941) 395-6773
Sriram Gopal: (301) 270-5500
LeRoy Moore: (303) 447-2779
M E D I A    A D V I S O R Y

Cleanup of Nuclear Weapons Sites May Leave High Levels of Residual Plutonium Levels in Soil

Precedent-Setting Estimation Process at Colorado's Rocky Flats Plant Nearing Completion Could Cause National Setback for Sound Cleanup Rules, New Study Finds

WHAT:: News conference to release report, Setting Cleanup Standards to Protect Future Generations: The Scientific Basis of Subsistence Farmer Scenario and Its Application to the Estimation of Radionuclide Soil Action Levels (RSALs) for Rocky Flats. The report shows the scientific necessity of using a conservative approach for setting cleanup standards in general and for residual plutonium in the soil in particular. It discusses the risks of using designations of contaminated sites as wildlife refuges to set cleanup standards. The report was prepared by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research for the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, Boulder, Colorado.

WHERE: Zenger Room, National Press Club 13th Floor, 529 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC

WHEN: Tuesday, December 11, 2001 at 10 AM


  • Dr. Arjun Makhijani, president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) and principal author of the report.
  • Sriram Gopal, Staff Scientist at IEER and co-author of the report.
  • LeRoy Moore, Consultant, Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center.

    WHY: There is growing sentiment in some quarters to designate nuclear weapons sites that are highly contaminated with plutonium and other radioactive materials as wildlife refuges. The first site proposed to be so designated is the Rocky Flats Plant site near Denver, Colorado. Setting standards for cleanup based on such a designation could result in residual radioactivity in soil dozens of times higher than under similar risk criteria using the traditional approach that assumes that a subsistence farmer may use the site in the distant future. The abandonment of this "subsistence farmer" approach to health protection at Rocky Flats would be deleterious to the local environment and could set a precedent for other sites and a more widespread and unprecedented relaxation of cleanup rules in the US nuclear weapons complex.

    The following documents will be posted on this site Tuesday, Dec. 11:
  • Press Release for the new IEER report, Setting Cleanup Standards to Protect Future Generations
  • Summary of the report
  • Ordering information

  • IEER Homepage
    Institute for Energy and Environmental Research
    Comments to Outreach Coordinator:
    Takoma Park, Maryland, USA

    Posted December 7, 2001