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The Nuclear Option: Clean Up the Cold War’s Environmental Mess

The toxic nuclear missile silos scattered around the country are a small but dangerous part of the fallout from the Cold War. The state of New Mexico did something about them this fall when a dozen retired Atlas F missile silos near the city of Roswell were decontaminated. Citizens and the Army Corps of Engineers celebrated the removal of chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), earning the site a safe designation.

Hey Colorado, how about those five former Atlas E sites in the northern plains in Weld and Larimer Counties? All five sites suffer soil contamination from petroleum chemicals and/or from PCBs, and three of the five sites have groundwater contamination from trichloroethylene (TCE), a cleaning solvent used during site construction and by the missile crews to flush the fuel tanks. Considering these silos were decommissioned in 1965, isn’t it about time we did a little housekeeping?

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