The Viridian Design Movement

From: Bruce Sterling [] Sent: Sunday, December 23, 2001 4:20 PM To: Subject: Viridian Note 00287: Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge

Key concepts: Viridian Involuntary Parks, Rocky Flats, Colorado, nuclear bomb plants, suburbs

Attention Conservation Notice: a classic Viridian Involuntary Park becomes an official American wildlife refuge.

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This Contest Ends January 12, 2002.

(((The concept of the "Viridian Involuntary Park" was first broached in Viridian Note 00023. (See also Notes 00128, 00139, 00166, 00185, 00234, 00242, 00269.) An "involuntary park" is an area of the planet which has been abandoned to savagery because ecological exploitation has made it too dangerous or expensive to clean up. Now Denver has one as a new "Christmas gift" from the US Congress! Enjoy!)))

Links: Green NIMBY guys piling up the ol' documentation: ((("Hot Property: A former nuclear bomb factory gets caught in suburban turf wars." Boy, there's a title for the season.)))

The Rocky Flats Coalition of Local Governments.

Department of Energy's Rocky Flats Closure Project. "The Rocky Flats Site is in a heightened state of security awareness that includes new restrictions on vendor and visitor access to the site until further notice."

Source: Denver Post,1002,417%257E290675,00.html


"Flats' cleanup quandry

"Saturday, December 22, 2001 == It's official: Federal land around the mothballed Rocky Flats nuclear bomb factory will become a national wildlife refuge. The just- passed measure ensures that a rare swath of undisturbed prairie won't be ruined by bulldozers but instead will continue to provide precious wildlife habitat. (((Hey, nice spin there, Mr. Editor... == maybe every "precious habitat" in Colorado needs a little uranium.)))

"The broad public support for the refuge was underscored by the bipartisan cooperation of the bill's sponsors, U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard, a Colorado Republican, and U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, a Boulder Democrat. (((Rare bipartisan unanimity == because nobody wants to touch that stuff! Leave it to the deer!)))

"Nonetheless, the wildlife refuge idea ignited a still- smoldering controversy. Some peace activists fear that designating the area as a refuge will give the U.S. Department of Energy an excuse to leave more radioactive material in the soil than it would have otherwise. (((If and when they dig it up, where are they supposed to put it?)))

"Allard and Udall insist their bill prohibits the feds from using the refuge as an excuse for relaxing cleanup standards. (((Cut to the chase and declare all toxic sites "wildlife refuges." They always get covered with wildlife sooner or later anyway; because no amount of spent fuel rods, PCBs, landmines or live ammo is as dangerous as humans.)))

"The issue, known as the 'soil action level,' is a legitimate concern, but involves just a small part of the new refuge. There are about 6,000 acres at Rocky Flats, of which the inner 350 acres == the industrial area where bomb-making took place == will stay in the DOE's control. (((I'm packin' a picnic basket, plus my cleanroom booties and my Tyvek jumpsuit.)))

"The refuge will entail the acreage around that industrial core. Of that outer area, about 5,400 acres are considered essentially uncontaminated. (((Let's camp and cook some marshmallows outside the razorwire.)))

"Thus the sticking point involves how much cleanup should be done on the roughly 250 acres adjacent to the industrial core. Some peace activists want the parcel dug up and decontaminated, likely at the cost of many millions of dollars, to ensure that DOE does a thorough cleanup.

"But the state also should be realistic. Digging up the dirt might release more radioactive particles than leaving the material in place. Moreover, making Rocky Flats' soil pristine again may require enormous sums that Congress may decide would be better spent, for example, to stop radioactive tritium at the DOE's Hanford site from leaking into the Columbia River." (((Welcome to nuclear realism. This is one of the few political issues that we can pretty much guarantee will be of topical interest 5,000 years from now.)))

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