Elk: Original by Ryan Moehring, critters c/o Rocky Flats NWR Flickr page, USFW Mountain-Prairie

“The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it..”

Neil deGrasse Tyson

“The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than that needed to produce it.”

Alberto Brandolini, 2013

About us

Dispel the nonsense

If you live in Candelas, Leyden Rock, Leyden Ranch, Whisper Creek, Five Parks, or Skyestone, you have already made your peace with the legacy of the Rocky Flats plant (and voted with your feet).  Yet you will encounter plenty of misinformation by innuendo, dark hints about the dangers of developing the areas around Rocky Flats, public access to the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge, and about the risks associated with building the Jefferson Parkway.

Who cares?

Some site visitors may think the issue of Rocky Flats safety is settled. It is (and there is no measurable health impact on anyone, after decades of looking). Some may dismiss anti-Refuge groups via the maxim “Ignorance is its own punishment”. Well, maybe. Some may be indignant about misinformation in all its guises; good for them! But it is the incidental damage of misinformation that matters locally. Most anti-Refuge opinions are easy to dismiss, but local municipalities (for example, Hapless Broomfield) were played for suckers by anti-nuclear groups. Your kids cannot take school trips to the Refuge because clueless risk-averse school boards listened to non-technical reps from the Peace&Justice Center sowing anxiety.

When nuclear power looms larger as a part of the energy future of the U.S., we can least afford to give publicity to reflexively anti-nuclear nonsense from people without credentials but great media access.

This site is intended to fill in a great deal of the science behind the assurances that both the developments around and the Refuge itself are completely safe. You will not see simple statements of fact–you will learn why something is true (or not). Wherever possible, hot link citations of current (when possible, less than 5 years old) peer-reviewed journal articles are given. Resources for those who wish to delve deeper are in the science documents under Science in the top menu bar.

This site serves as a data- and science-based extension to Paul Karolyi’s excellent 2018 interview-based podcast series about Rocky Flats entitled Unclear Danger, Season 4 of Changing Denver. [We do not recommend part 4B: A rebuttal of sorts.]

The documents include analysis and information simply not available elsewhere, many in graphical form.  These include: radionuclides in Rocky Flats soil standards from NIST, a synthesis of recent measurements of Pu around the Refuge including Ketterer’s hot particle measurements, very careful radiation dose estimates around the Refuge, and a review of health epidemiology for our area.

`The dose makes the poison’. You will never hear about radiation dose from those who oppose public use of the Refuge, since they know nothing about it. The dose estimates on this site are essentially independent of government estimates (we use only measured data and the International Commission on Radiological Protection data), yet are quite consistent with DOE/CDPHE findings.

Most important: the authors are not public servants, need not treat idiotic statements politely (as must a government employee), and can call things as they see them, and name names.

  • Ketterer’s May 2024 air sampling nothingburger
    [I downloaded a somewhat fuzzy .jpg from  RockyFlatsPuPlayground here.  A cleaned-up PDF is on our website here.] Michael Ketterer and Jon Lipksy collected air samples at the former plant east gate on Indiana St,…
  • Another municipal lamb to the Rocky Flats nonsense slaughter
    (Damn–thought I’d published this on March 12th!) On Monday, March 11 the Westminster City Council appears to have capitulated to the usual earnest misinformation onslaught from the usual suspects: Peace&Justice, Jon Lipsky, Randy Stafford,…
  • Doomed new lawsuit will waste tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars
    Case 1:24-CV-00061, Physicians for Social Responsibility et al v. Buttigieg et al was filed on January 8. The case will appear before Judge Timothy Kelly of the DC District Court. “In the absence of…
  • Welcome to the new website
    Version 2 has been 5 years in coming. It has been a daunting task. In keeping with current beliefs about fighting misinformation, I have tried to warn people when they’re about to encounter junk…
  • Claim: Rocky Flats plutonium caused Marshall Fire
    A recent applicant for at-large member of the Stewardship Council made this accusation at the September 19th Zoom meeting. The idea was quickly refuted by board members.  This person appears to confuse metallic Pu…

Hover over the bottom of the graphic to read the caption

The introduction and opinion column

The topics in this column are unlike the rest: they are about politics and opinion (mostly David Wood’s).

Living around Rocky Flats

What are the neighboring communities? Who are the entities it’s good to know about?

Fighting misinformation

Version 2 of the website provides tools for detecting misinformation and conspiracy theories, vetting the credentials of those with strong opinions, and an overview of local politics for those who might wish to get involved.

Medical misinformation from anti-Refuge groups

An important reason that anti-Refuge groups are not just harmless cranks

Whom do anti-Refuge groups represent?

Spokesmen for such groups would love for you to believe they represent the public and those living around the Refuge. They do not–see the data.

Brief science (not opinion)

FAQ

Common questions about Rocky Flats: we’ll add more if asked.

True/false beliefs

Quick answers and links to more info

Trust in science

Why fight misinformation?

Science

Radiation, measurements, and health

There is a huge conceptual gap between the “ground truth” of soil contamination by tiny levels of Pu and the regulatory (over)estimate that people living around the Refuge have an additional risk of cancer in the range of 1 in 100,000 to 1 in 1,000,000.  These documents fill in that gap without being too technical. PS: Yes, you can trust the CDPHE and the DOE. The ‘excess’ exposure changes your lifetime risk of dying of cancer from, in effect, 22.00000% to 22.00001%.  See the calculations here. Changing your diet could change the 22% to 15%, a factor of 1 million times larger.

COMING SOON: The Superfund cleanup

The cleanup is regarded as exemplary by the federal and other state governments and abroad. Why is this?

COMING SOON: Epidemiology, radiation, and Rocky Flats

What makes good epidemiology? What is the history of findings about living around Rocky Flats? Spoiler: excess cancer rates have never been detected, nor will they probably ever be. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment monitors the Rocky Flats area closely.  Longtime downwinders have been tragically ill-served by ‘activists’.

For professionals

Some information available only from this website

The message in graphics

The impact of Rocky Flats plutonium is best understood by comparisons–you don’t even need to know the units.

Nontechnical flyers

These are 1- or 2-page, front & back, suitable for printing out as a reminder: soil radioactivity, measured radiation on trails, your annual dose, etc.

Radiation in your basement

Basement radon measurements through the abatement process; radiation in your basement and an introduction to gamma ray spectrometry. Resources.

The Wildlife Refuge

The 4-page flyer (used on Nextdoor): April 2024 and attempts to block completion of Rocky Mountain Greenway bridge

Newish measurements

2019 direct measurements of the ambient dose equivalent radiation rate (ADER) INSIDE the Refuge and even the DOE’s donut hole are entirely consistent with ordinary background radiation along the Front Range. No surprise: Pu contributes less than 1% of total soil radioactivity.

Plans for the Refuge

Repeated legal defeats of anti-Refuge activist groups have opened the way to improvements and the Rocky Mountain Greenway connections.

School visits to the Refuge

Anti-Refuge activist visits to timid liability-averse local school boards blocked school visits without one shred of evidence or any input from anyone with scientific credentials.

Total yearly radiation doses in milliSievert (mSv) for an average Arvada resident on the eastern boundary of the Refuge. Soil Pu doses include all 2019 sampling and Dr. Michael Ketterer’s data on hot particles on the eastern boundary
Details

The medical, consumer products, and miscellaneous doses come from. The average Arvada radon concentration comes from. The cosmic ray dose is very well known as function of altitude. From total background measurements (0.140 microSv/h from either our own measurements in the Refuge and in the COU or 0.140 from pre-Superfund cleanup measurements by the DOE.