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Rocky Flats Environmental Test Site

Arvada, Colorado USA

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“ex-nuclear weapons production facility”

The Rocky Flats Plant was a United States nuclear weapons production facility near Denver, Colorado that operated from 1952 to 1992. It was under the control of the United States Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) until 1977, when the AEC was replaced by the Department of Energy (DOE). Weapons production ended in 1989 after FBI agents raided the Rocky Flats plant. Operators of the plant later pleaded guilty to criminal violations of environmental law. Following World War II, the United States began production of the hydrogen bomb. The AEC chose the Dow Chemical Company to manage the bomb production facility. A 4 sq mi (10 km2) site about 15 mi (24 km) northwest of Denver, Colorado on a windy plateau called Rocky Flats was chosen for the facility. On July 10, 1951, ground was broken on the first building in the facility. Contemporary news reports stated that the site would not be used to produce nuclear bombs. In 1953, the plant began production of bomb components, manufacturing plutonium triggers, or "pits", which were used at the Pantex plant in Amarillo, Texas to assemble nuclear weapons. By 1957, the plant had expanded to 27 buildings. On September 11, 1957, a plutonium fire occurred in one of the gloveboxes used to handle radioactive materials, igniting the combustible rubber gloves and plexiglass windows of the box. Metallic plutonium is a fire hazard and pyrophoric; under the right conditions it may ignite in air at room temperature. The accident resulted in the contamination of Building 771 and the release of plutonium into the atmosphere, and caused US $818,600 in damage. An incinerator for plutonium-contaminated waste was installed in Building 771 in 1958. Barrels of radioactive waste were found to be leaking into an open field in 1959. This was not made publicly known until 1970 when wind-borne particles were detected in Denver. Throughout the 1960s, the plant continued to enlarge and add buildings. The 1960s also brought more contamination to the site. In 1967, 3,500 barrels (560 m3) of plutonium-contaminated lubricants and solvents were stored on Pad 903. A large number of them were found to be leaking, and low-level contaminated soil was becoming wind-borne from this area. This pad was covered with gravel and paved over with asphalt in 1969. Read more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocky_Flats_Plant

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Reviewed by
Tatiana Danger

  • Road Warrior
  • 1,169 Reviews
  • 766 Helpful
August 31, 2014
Rated 3.0

this notorious nuclear weapons production facility was in operation for forty years, from 1952-1992. The entire facility is just one massive clusterfu#k of epic proportions, from plutonium fires to radioactive leaks. Ultimately it was shut down and the operators pled guilty to criminally violating environmental law. I wouldn't advise visiting. The area is still considered contaminated with plutonium.

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Rocky Flats Environmental Test Site

Arvada, Colorado
USA

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