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Rocky Mountain News (Colorado): Attorney general says Rocky Mountain Arsenal staying contaminated past cleanup date

By Hector Gutierrez, Rocky Mountain News
October 30, 2007

Rocky Mountain Arsenal is expected to remain contaminated beyond 2010 when a cleanup was scheduled to be completed, according to an assessment released Monday by the Colorado attorney general.

The Natural Resource Damage Assessment Plan found that hazardous substances will continue to move into groundwater from contaminated soils below the surface and “thus groundwater at the Arsenal will not be clean for the foreseeable future.”

The assessment was prepared on behalf of Attorney General John Suthers, the Department of Public Health and Environment, and the Department of Natural Resources.

Shell Oil Co. and the U.S. Army have been responsible for cleaning up contaminants at the arsenal. During World War II, the Army produced chemical warfare agents and incendiary munitions, including mustard gas, napalm and nerve agents.

After the war, the Army leased parts of the arsenal to Shell. The oil firm then manufactured pesticides, insecticides and herbicides on the site from 1952 to 1982.

Thousands of wildlife died over the years due to the contaminants.

Officials from the attorney general’s office, the public health department and the natural resources departments have been negotiating with Shell and the federal government for several months to reach a settlement on remediation and compensation.

“Although we applaud the clean-up work that Shell and the Army have completed on the Arsenal so far, that effort merely reduces additional harm to our environment, however, harm remains,” Jim Martin, Colorado’s public health and environment executive director, said in a statement.

The release of the assessment plan is part of the process for the arsenal’s cleanup, and the public will be allowed give its input after it is formally published.

“So we’re not surprised about this or concerned about this, the fact that they put out this plan,” Michael Gaughan, Shell spokesman, said.

Gaughan added that he and Shell officials have not had an opportunity to read the plan.

http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/local/article/0,1299,DRMN_15_5734994,00.html

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