incinerator found buried at Rocky Flats
The Casper Star-Tribune, April 29,
An old incinerator that managers at the former Rocky
Flats nuclear weapons plant had assumed was dismantled has been discovered
under a pile of dirt, officials said.
Managers thought the 25-foot-tall incinerator had
been taken down long ago, said John Corsi, spokesman for Kaiser-Hill,
the company cleaning up Rocky Flats.
But he said workers sometime in the past apparently
removed the incinerator's 30-foot stack and then simply pushed dirt
over the rest of the concrete structure, which was built against a hillside
Tests are planned for the next two weeks to determine
if the incinerator is contaminated with toxic or radiological material,
and managers will then write a cleanup plan for the site, Corsi said.
Initial measurements showed no radiation, he said.
Some Rocky Flats watchdogs monitoring the site where
plutonium triggers for nuclear weapons were produced during the Cold
War said they were surprised by the discovery on Friday.
''Isn't that a shock?'' asked Ken Korkia, executive
director of the Rocky Flats Citizens Advisory Board.
Workers removing old waste concrete from another
cleanup site nearby made the discovery, Corsi said. They expected to
uncover the old slab the incinerator was built on and found the entire
The old slab was one of more than 300 spots of possible
contamination at Rocky Flats identified during document searches and
worker interviews, Corsi said. Workers will investigate each one of
those spots before cleanup is complete.
Between 1952 and 1968, officials burned general
office waste in the incinerator, Corsi said. They discarded ash in deep
pits in another part of the site and later, once the incinerator was
closed, sent waste to a landfill on site.
Jerry Henderson, a program specialist for the Citizens
Advisory Board, said there is evidence radioactive and other contaminants
were burned in the unit. Old ash pits, for example, contain several
heavy metals, including depleted uranium, he said.
''Since they've found contamination in the ash pits
... certainly, I'd expect it in the machine itself,'' Henderson said.