Superfund Helps Double the Size of Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge
Go just ten miles outside of Denver, Colorado, and you'll find an abundance of deer, eagles, prairie dogs, hawks, and coyotes strolling around one of the most unusual places imaginable - a former chemical weapons and pesticide production facility that is now the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Superfund site.
On October 13, 2006, EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson, Department of the Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, and representatives from the U.S. Army and Shell Oil Company will observe National Wildlife Refuge Week by hosting a ceremony celebrating the formal transfer of more than 7,000 acres of land at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Superfund site from the U.S. Army to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The size of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge will more than double when this land is transferred. "Through the hard work of many," said Administrator Johnson, "We recognize the transformation of this magnificent piece of land from a once-contaminated Superfund site to a national treasure."
The 27 square-mile Rocky Mountain Arsenal, located in Commerce City, Colorado, approximately 10 miles northeast of downtown Denver, is one of the largest cleanup sites in the country. In 1942, Rocky Mountain Arsenal was built to manufacture chemical weapons used in World War II. In 1946, some of the facilities were leased to private industry for the production of industrial and agricultural chemicals. The Rocky Mountain Arsenal later became a site for chemical agent demilitarization programs. Since 1985, the site's sole mission has been environmental remediation. In 1987, Rocky Mountain Arsenal was placed on the Superfund National Priorities List.
Currently, Rocky Mountain Arsenal is undergoing an extensive environmental cleanup of the site's soil, structures and groundwater. Restoring the refuge's prairie ecosystem is a major cleanup goal. EPA officially deleted the Internal Parcel of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal from the National Priorities List in July 2006. The deletion of the Internal Parcel is an excellent example EPA's efforts to return Superfund sites back into productive use. Rather than waiting for the entire Rocky Mountain Arsenal Superfund site to be cleaned up, EPA deleted the Internal Parcel so it could be transferred to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. EPA and the State of Colorado ensured the land being transferred today meets all of the rigorous standards for cleaning up a Superfund site.
Once the cleanup is complete, the remainder of Rocky Mountain Arsenal's vast open spaces will officially transition to one of the largest urban national wildlife refuges in the nation. The site now provides sanctuary for more than 330 species of wildlife, including deer, coyotes, bald eagles and burrowing owls. The cleanup is approximately two-thirds complete, and is expected to conclude in 2011.