The secret's out
Nevertheless, few have been privy to what the so-called runaway grand jury learned about the bomb factory before the FBI raided and closed the plant in 1989.
Looking back as far as 1980, the grand jury unearthed a reckless decade at the Department of Energy weapons plant six miles southeast of Boulder.
Included in the grand jury's report:
* defense contractor Rockwell International illegally incinerated hazardous waste during a nine-year period, even though Rockwell and the DOE reported in 1985 that the incinerator was mothballed;
* Rockwell and the DOE allowed 4,500 poorly labeled barrels containing 40 years of hazardous waste to pile up;
* and in 1989, employees discovered a green, slightly fluorescent fluid flowing from the plant.
The U.S. Attorney's 125-page response to the grand jury report says incinerating hazardous waste was not illegal because the rules regarding the incinerator were in dispute. As for contaminated groundwater, the attorney's office admits Rocky Flats has left a plume of toxics, but it doesn't yet "pose a near-term serious threat" to reservoirs three miles downstream.
- R.E. Baird