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 intervention by this Court, the health and safety of many individuals will be at risk due to exposure to nuclear contaminants that are far above regulatory limits for radiation and appear to be migrating by air and soil”. Activist focus is trail construction on the east side of the Refuge, and a bridge and overpass for the Rocky Mountain Greenway.

They observe, “a plutonium sample five times higher than the regulatory limit had been identified less than a year earlier,
causing the other connecting municipality (i.e., the City of Broomfield) to withdraw from the Greenway Project entirely.” Ah, the great Jefferson Parkway hot sample kerfuffle. “According to [lawyer Randall] Weiner, the project received pushback from surrounding towns, with the town of Superior withdrawing from the project in 2016 and the city and county of Broomfield exiting after the discovery of the “Bill Ray particle.””

Any such lawsuit (over the last 30 years) questioning science or facts would have been rejected instantly. It is maddening that points of law, rather than direct appeal to data, obscure fearmongering and gross misrepresentation of facts by activist groups. Here are the facts:

  • About 1400 particles just like the one found would be needed to become lodged in the lungs to raise the lifetime risk of cancer by 1%. No other such large particles have been found; about 190,000 particles of the largest size found by Michael Ketterer would be needed for this 1% excess risk.
  • 95% of the samples on the east side of the refuge showed Pu levels below 2 pCi/g, 25 times smaller than the negotiated 50 pCi/g limit.
  • The 50-year dose from living near the east gate entrance to Rocky Flats is about 0.093 millisieverts. Per year the background dose around Rocky Flats is about 1.2 mSv, about 650 times larger.
  • Plutonium is an alpha particle emitter and contributes about 0.1 pCi/g (median: 50% of samples below, 50% above) over the Refuge+COU, or 0.32 pCi/g from the Jefferson Parkway sampling, mostly the eastern boundary. On the other hand, the median of the distribution of the gross alpha contribution is 17 pCi/g for DOE samples. This means that Pu contributes about 0.59% of total soil alpha activity [DOE data] or 1.9% from Jefferson Parkway sampling, partly within the “Pu plume” due east of the former Pad 903.

Click the images below for data.

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