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Colorado Sues Government Over Rocky Mountain Arsenal Site

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (CBS4)- The State of Colorado is suing the U.S. government over who should control the contaminated areas that remain at the former Rocky Mountain Arsenal.

The arsenal stopped production of chemical weapons and pesticides in the early 80s. Cleanup was finished seven years ago and now much of the area has been turned into a wildlife refuge but many toxic compounds remain.

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Colorado says the potential for trouble is still there unless the property has proper control.

"It was referred to as one of the most contaminated pieces of property on the planet," said Colorado Department of Health and Environment spokesman Doug Knappe.

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CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger interviews Doug Knappe with the Colorado Department of Health (credit: CBS)

Knappe manages the hazardous waste program for the state health department.

Now, the agency he works for is suing the U.S. Army, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Shell Oil. The lawsuit claims that an area called "Basin F" still poses a potential threat, "all of these constitute threats to human health and environment."

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He says the state needs proper management of the site.

"We don't have control of that and we therefore can't ensure for the protection of humans, health and environment," said Knappe.

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(credit: CBS)

Much of the hazardous waste remains in landfills or contained under covers. The state says even though some ground water remains contaminated, it is treated.

Members of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Site Advisory Board told CBS4 there are tons of contaminated soil within the property boundaries. The Army program manager insists the land is safe and say they are proud of the cleanup.

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(credit: CBS)

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