"Oh Give Me a Home, Where Plutonium, Uranium, and Beryllium Used to Play, and the Deer and the Antelope Roam . . .”
What, besides the ever-present winds known to this area, does this panorama have to do with Atmosphere? Well, it is an HDR Panorama showing the area around Highway Colorado 128, known to local residents as the “Flats”; (where the flatlands meet the Rocky Mountains). Colorado's Jefferson, Boulder and Broomfield Counties are all visible from this vantage point.
Not so long ago the southern part of this landscape was occupied by over 800 buildings. This Cold War facility was known as Rocky Flats; where the American Department of Energy manufactured nuclear bomb components.
Find the mountains. Locate the little white sticks. Those are experimental windmills located at the National Wind Technology Center. Rotate the Pano to your left. You are now looking at the Rocky Flats Wildlife Preserve, former home to Armageddon (rotate a little further and you will see hints of Denver’s infamous ‘Brown Cloud.’)
According to WikiPedia.org: “Due to fires (principally the fire in 1957) and other inadvertent releases (principly due to wind at a waste storage area) the site is contaminated with plutonium. The other major contaminant is carbon tetrachloride. Both of these substances affected areas adjacent to the site. There were also small releases of dioxin (from incineration), beryllium and tritium.”
“Clean-up was declared complete on October 13 2005. About 1000 acres of the new wildlife refuge (the former Industrial Area) will remain under DOE control to protect the ongoing environmental monitoring and remedy.” (recovered April 15, 2007 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocky_Flats
Needless to say the site clean-up and 6,400 acre wildlife refuge remain controversial, legal battles are still underway; and the future effects of pollutants released into air and soil are still unknown. Oddly, this sad history does not seem to worry developers determined to surround the area with new housing tracts and shopping malls.
Despite this, and other evidence of our screwed up tired old Earth, it has to be a good thing when a nuclear bomb factory closes. It is, Isn’t it?
John H. Fellers