2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Aimee Houghton <aimeeh@cpeo.org>
Date: 3 Feb 2003 22:12:54 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Accelerated Cleanup Plan at Rocky Flats
The Wall Street Journal
February 3, 2002


Accelerated Plan Would Turn a Complex
In Rocky Flats, Colo., Into Wildlife Refugee

By: John J. Fialka
Staff Reporter of the Wall Street Journal

ROCKY FLATS, Colo. -- Building 771, a bunker-like structure here once known as "the most dangerous building in America," soon will be pulverized, its lethal debris sealed in barrels and hauled away.

The defense complex at Rocky Flats was the machine shop of the Cold War, and Building 771 was where hydrogen-bomb triggers were made. Now the site presents the first big test of the nation's most complex, costly and dangerous cleanup project. The Department of Energy is trying to remove toxic and radioactive contamination left at 114 sites around the country that were used for nuclear-weapons production.
When it was proposed eight years ago, this plan was ridiculed as impossible because estimates showed it might cost between $200 billion and $350 billion, and take until 2070 to complete. Now federal officials think they can finish most of the cleanup by 2025, saving tens of billions of dollars.

This sprawling complex of 700 buildings just 15 miles northwest of Denver housed the equipment and foundry used to fashion parts for hydrogen warheads from plutonium and highly enriched uranium. The original plan estimated it would take more than 60 years and at least $22 billion to dismantle Rocky Flats. The new plan is to level it by 2006, at a cost of just $7 billion -- and to try to turn it into a federal wildlife refuge.

"When we first heard these numbers we were flabbergasted," says Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham. "Then we discovered that at least half of the cost of these things was security and overhead in those far out years." By spending a few hundred million dollars to close Rocky Flats early, Mr. Abraham plans to put the savings into a revolving fund that can be used in turn to clean up other major nuclear sites. The result, he hopes, will gradually ease the department's workload: About one of every three dollars in its $21 billion annual budget now is spent for cleanup projects.

To view this article in full please click on the following link:
WSJ.com - U.S. Cleanup of Nuclear Sites Will Soon Face First Big Test*

Aimee R. Houghton                                 
Associate Director, CPEO
1101 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC  20036
tel: 202-452-8039; fax: 202-452-8095
Email: aimeeh@cpeo.org
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