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Rocky Flats Findings Divide Coloradans: 'It's Not A Big Surprise'

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) - After the state announced the highest level of plutonium ever publicly tested at Rocky Flats, questions remain on the safety in the area.

Two Coloradans who have each spent years studying Rocky Flats and plutonium contamination are split on just how dangerous this could be.

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"I devoted a great deal more attention to the issues of the safety of living around Rocky Flats," said David Wood, a former Physics Professor who has spent his retirement pouring over thousands of scientific studies. "It's not a big surprise to find a very hot particle in the soil at rocky flats."

Wood has studied the area around his house in the Candelas neighborhood and created a website that acts like a library for information on radiation, plutonium and anything else he can find.

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"You're very unlikely to inhale one, and even if you did, and they were all big ones like the 8.8 microns, you can still inhale 60 of them and have a 1% impact on your cancer risk," Wood said. You can find more of his research here.

The state has set a standard for the parkway at 50 pCi/g (picocuries per gram), the result announced on Tuesday was 264 pCi/g. Many people are concerned there are many more hot particles in the area where the Jefferson Parkway will be built.

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"This testing should have been done years ago," said Randy Stafford, a former member of the Jefferson Parkway Advisory committee. "If you look at the disease incidents in the local population there's strong evidence to suggest there's a health risk here."

Stafford combats Wood's assessment with another study that says, "only a single particle inhaled is sufficient to damage DNA and cause cell mutation."

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"We know there are at least one needle in the haystack. How many needles are in that haystack? And if those needles, particles become airborne, construction workers can inhale them, downwind residents can inhale them. In my opinion they present a public health risk," Stafford said.

Concerned Coloradans can call the state's toxicology hotline with specific questions. They also have website for ongoing updates.

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