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Elevated plutonium levels found in soil sample ahead of Jefferson Parkway construction

The elevated levels were found in soil as part of the construction of the Jefferson Parkway near the former Rocky Flats plant.

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colorado — A soil sample taken from the eastern edge of Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge showed elevated levels of plutonium, according to a notice sent out by Jefferson Parkway authorities.

Parkway officials said they notified the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment(CDPHE) Friday of an inconsistent test from one sample. 

They said one result indicated elevated plutonium levels. A second test of soil from the same sample had a significantly lower result, which is consistent with all other test results officials have received so far.

The testing is being done in preparation for construction of Jefferson Parkway, which is a planned toll road that will connect Highway 93 to Northwest Parkway.

The field tests are being done to establish baseline soil conditions in the Jefferson Parkway right of way. The sample that showed elevated levels was taken from the Rocky Flats side of Indiana Street a couple of miles north of 96th Avenue.

RELATED: Study: 'Concerning patterns' found in health survey of Rocky Flats

The yellow dot on the map shows the location of the sample. Nearly 250 samples have been taken since testing began in May.

Credit: Jefferson Parkway

The Jefferson Parkway is a privately-funded, publicly-owned regional toll road that has been planned for decades. The Authority has selected three contractors as finalists to respond to a yet-to-be released RFP to design, finance, construct, operate and maintain the parkway, with the award of the contract and beginning of construction planned for 2020.

It's being constructed in an area near the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge which once was home to a nuclear weapons plant. 

RELATED: In reversal, Interior Department says Rocky Flats will open on Saturday as planned

The Rocky Flats Plant was located 16 miles northwest of downtown Denver between Arvada and Superior in Jefferson County. The industrial facility used plutonium to build triggers for nuclear weapons for 40 years. The site underwent an extensive clean-up project that finished in 2005 and cost $7 billion dollars.

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