Rocky Flats

Rocky Flats Plant

Rocky Flats is a DOE facility from 1953 to the present so workers are eligible to file both Part B and Part E claims.

Rocky Flats has three Special Exposure Cohorts which cover some workers with specific cancers and at least 250 days of employment for April1, 1952-December 31, 1983.

Rocky Flats was built in 1951 as a plutonium and uranium component manufacturing center. From 1952 to 1989, the site’s primary mission was to fabricate the “pit” that contains the heavy metals and serves as the trigger device for nuclear warheads. Rocky Flats was also responsible for recycling plutonium from scrap and plutonium retrieved from retired nuclear warheads. The final products of this recycling included components and assemblies manufactured from uranium, plutonium, beryllium, stainless steel, and other metals. Production activities included metalworking, component fabrication and assembly, chemical recovery and purification of plutonium, and associated quality control functions. Research and development in the fields of chemistry, physics, metallurgy, materials technology, nuclear safety, and mechanical engineering were also conducted at the site.
In 1989, many of the site’s nuclear component production functions were suspended after a safety review temporarily shut down plutonium operations. Following an extensive review, which included considerable independent oversight, a few buildings were authorized by the Secretary of Energy to resume limited plutonium operations: to stabilize plutonium oxide and repackage plutonium for safe storage. In 1989, as a result of the environmental contamination caused by production activities at the site, Rocky Flats was placed on the Superfund National Priorities List. In January 1992, nuclear component production was terminated and the site’s primary mission changed from nuclear weapons production to environmental cleanup and restoration.

Throughout the course of its operations, the potential for beryllium exposure existed at this site, due to beryllium use, residual contamination, and decontamination activities.

The Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site is located about 10 miles northwest of Denver, Colorado, on about 11 square miles at the base of the Rocky Mountains. The AEC established the Rocky Flats Plant in 1951 with a mission to manufacture nuclear weapons components from materials such as plutonium, beryllium, and uranium. When operations ceased, large amounts of plutonium, plutonium compounds, and metallic residues remained at the various site facilities. Significant volumes of hazardous and radioactive waste generated during production operations were also present throughout numerous buildings and soil was contaminated, resulting in the site being placed on the National Priorities List. In 1991, DOE’s Environmental Management acquired the Rocky Flats Plant and the site transitioned to a new mission: cleaning up the contamination and waste from past production activities. By the end of 2005, all site facilities were demolished; all waste removed, and contamination reduced to regulatory agreed upon levels. The site will transition to a National Wildlife Refuge with the U.S. Department of Interior. In FY 2007, the site transferred to DOE’s Office of Legacy Management.

Professor John M. Whiteley of the University of California Irvine Campus, teaches a course on Nuclear Environment. Part of the course reading requirements is a copy of the actual search warrant issued for the raid on the Rocky Flats facility in 1989. The Rocky Flats portion of the class is a joint effort with Ms. Caron Balkany, Esquire of the Rocky Flats Citizens’ Investigation. The Citizens’ Investigation is presented in the non-fiction, non-profit book The Ambushed Grand Jury and her web site is

DOL reports statistics on Rocky Flats claims. Because Rocky Flats is a DOE site workers are eligible to file claims for both Part B and Part E. DOL has developed a Site Exposure Matrix for Rocky Flats.

Rocky Flats site transferred to DOE’s Office of Legacy Management in 2008 and requires operation and maintenance of remedial action systems, routine inspection and maintenance, records-related activities, and stakeholder support. There is also a fact sheet.


Rocky Flats has an SEC for workers who were monitored or should have been monitored for neutron exposures with a number of work days aggregating at least 250 work days from April 1, 1952, through December 31, 1966.


Part 4: Jon Lipsky, M.A.S. was given on July 22, 2015

Letter to Perlmutter

A constituent’s letter to Colorado Congressman Perlmutter on NIOSH’s inability to reconstruct dose.


Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant Oral History Project

The Boulder Library houses the Maria Rogers Oral History Program, a collection of audio and video interviews with long-time residents and other people knowledgeable about the history of the city and county of Boulder in Colorado. The Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons collection examines the history of the plant from many points of view. It contains more than 150 interviews with workers, managers, regulators, protestors, and people in the surrounding community. Many thanks to the Boulder Library for access to this collection.


SEC Petition SEC-00192

Rocky Flats claimants have filed a new Rocky Flats SEC petition. The premise for the petition is that site profile issues identified in 2007 have not been resolved nor has new exposure evidence been investigated. NIOSH will still need to accept this petition. Stay tuned for developments. Additional information was requested and added to the original petition.


Rocky Flats Videos

Rocky Flats 25th Anniversary of the FBI Raid


Buried History
Deadly Denial Day 1
Deadly Denial Day 2
Downwind of Rocky Flats
Dying on American Soil: The Veterans of Rocky Flats Nuclear Plant
Dr. Leroy Moore – Rocky Flats Not Safe
FBI Special Agent John Lipsky, Part 1
FBI Special Agent John Lipsky, Part 2
FBI Special Agent John Lipsky, Part 4
FBI Special Agent John Lipsky, Part 5
Kristen Iverson – Full Body Burden
Lipsky – Strontium and Cesium at Rocky Flats
McKinley in Committee

Maria Rogers Oral History Project; Rocky Flats Oral History Project Interviews

Practices of the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant, Part 1
Practices of the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant, Part 2
Practices of the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant, Part 3
Rocky Flats: The Ambushed Grand Jury

Rocky Flats a Local Hazard – Forever
Rocky Flats Legacy
Rocky Flats: Life in the Shadow of a Nuclear Bomb Factory
Rocky Flats Worker Judy Padilla, Part 1
Rocky Flats Worker Judy Padilla, Part 2
Rocky Flats Worker Judy Padilla, Part 3
Rocky Flats Worker Judy Padilla, Part 4
Rocky Flats Worker Judy Padilla, Part 5
Rocky Flats – Weapons to Wildlife, Part 2
Rocky Flats – Weapons to Wildlife, Part 3
Rocky Flats – Weapons to Wildlife, Part 4
Sick Rocky Flats Worker asks Mark Udall for Help at Meeting
Wes McKinley – One Hell of a Story
Wes McKinley – Wildlife Refuge?


Rocky Flats Classified Interviews

NIOSH conducted classified interviews with former Rocky Flats workers. These interviews are part of the investigation to the new SEC petition.


Emails obtained through FOIA Request

In 2005, the United Steelworkers Local 8039 filed a petition to have its workers covered under the Special Exposure Cohort (SEC). After two years of deliberation the Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health, with input from their contractor, Sanford Cohen and Associates, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) decided that workers exposed to neutron radiation from 1952 to 1966 qualified for the SEC. For all other workers in other years the Board determined that NIOSH could reconstruct dose with reasonable accuracy.

Claimants and advocates for the Rocky Flats plant disagreed with this decision. A Freedom of Information Act Request was filed with NIOSH for all emails related to the investigation of the SEC petition. NIOSH complied with the request and submitted about 1,000 pages of emails.

Below you will find selected emails that are either concerning in nature or show the inner debate that is reflected in NIOSH’s final position on the SEC petition.

D&D Issues

Dose Issue

2007, June 1 Second

Rocky Flats Documents

Rocky Flats History

Miscellaneous Issues

Thorium Issue

Other Rocky Flats Documents