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August 2004

Demolition of the "Most Dangerous Building in America" Begins

Golden, CO— In a huge milestone for the nation’s nuclear cleanup program, workers who once produced nuclear weapons began demolition July 15, 2004 of one of the most hazardous nuclear facilities in America.

Building 771, at the Rocky Flats facility outside of Denver Colorado, is the first plutonium processing building of its size and complexity to be demolished in the United States. The building has a 50-year legacy of plutonium leaks and spills and a major fire occurred there in 1957. In 1994 the Department of Energy concluded that Building 771 was its greatest vulnerability because of the hazardous and radioactive materials it once housed. It was also dubbed by the national media as “the most dangerous building in America”. One of four original manufacturing buildings at Rocky Flats, dismantlement is expected to take six to eight weeks completing demolition in September 2004.

“This represents a historic milestone in closing Rocky Flats and the most significant cleanup accomplishment to date in the DOE complex,” said Secretary Abraham. “The demolition of one the most contaminated buildings in the country, once thought impossible, demonstrates the nation’s commitment to accelerated cleanup and closure of Rocky Flats. When this historic cleanup is complete, it will show that the U.S. government can clean up the legacy of the Cold War and turn the 6,000-plus acre reserve from a perceived public liability into a true public asset, a National Wildlife Refuge managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”

“Workers have achieved what many thought was impossible, by cleaning up one the most contaminated buildings in the country” said Department of Energy Manager Frazer Lockhart. “The demolition of Building 771 is the second of the site’s five major plutonium contaminated facilities to be demolished and the beginning of a period of numerous demolition activities that will occur over the next 18 months,” said Lockhart. “The remaining 450 facilities and structures will be decommissioned and demolished and environmental remediation completed keeping Rocky Flats on schedule to safely close in 2006.”

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