In response to Boulder Weekly’s
“Ghosts of Valmont Butte” series and concerns from several local activist groups, City of Boulder officials have issued written memos defending their approach to remediating the property.
On March 30, Joe Castro, the city’s facilities and fleet manager, sent a letter to Carol Affleck of the Valmont School District #4 Cemetery Association, Steven Moore of the Valmont Butte Heritage Alliance and LeRoy Moore of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, all of whom have raised concerns about cleanup plans at the site, in part due to the Boulder Weekly series.
In the letter, Castro reasserts many claims that Boulder Weekly has demonstrated to be questionable at best, including the idea that the only groundwater at the site is on the east end of the property and that groundwater can’t migrate to the north through the primary tailings pond’s dike dam because the Valmont dike formation is a geologic barrier.
In addition, Castro maintains that city officials know the exact location of the radioactive soils buried by the city at the site in 1971, and that updated plans call for extending the cap over the area identified by Boulder Weekly as a likely site of at least one pit. He also repeats the claim that ground-penetrating radar (GPR) is not a suitable technology for identifying unmarked human graves outside Valmont Cemetery that may be unearthed during excavation if present, despite evidence to the contrary.
That same week, the city attorney’s office sent a memo regarding Valmont and BW’s coverage to the entire council, but spokesperson Sarah Huntley declined to release that document, saying it constitutes “attorney-client privilege and would not be a public record.”
City staff sent a longer version of the Castro letter to city council on April 12 as part of its “weekly information packet.” Boulder Weekly has prepared a point-by-point response to that memo, incorporating excerpts from an EPA report as evidence that contradicts the city’s claims.
The full text of the city’s memo and the BW response, as well as a map and an aerial photo, are available online at bit.ly/ValmontResponse.