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Sun, July 05

Longstanding rumors prompt testing of school athletic fields
Samples being taken over next two weeks

Radiation testing has begun at the school sports fields this week, in response to long-standing rumors that they contain fill from the Orphan uranium mine.

"The rumors have been off and on for many years," said park Public Affairs Officer Maureen Oltrogge. "Because those concerns are out there, we're addressing them by having this done and putting those concerns to rest."

She said that they have searched the park's administrative records, both locally and at the regional office in Denver, for any indication that mine material went to the school.

"We've gone through it page by page and found nothing to indicate that anything from the mine went over to the school," she said.

School Superintendent Sheila Breen said that she had asked for analysis a few years back.

The National Park Service is funding the testing, Oltrogge said.

The Bureau of Reclamation started testing the upper and lower fields, the playground and a background area this week. Through the end of the month, they will be taking surface and subsurface soil samples up to two feet deep and measuring gamma radiation levels. The track and soccer field area and softball field area will be tested separately, with at least 25 soil testing locations at each, as well as at the background site that will be used as a baseline for comparison. They will also test for surface gamma radiation.

Anything registering more than two times the levels in the background testing area would prompt further investigation.

A draft report from soil samples is due at the end of October with the final report expected by the end of the year. If the testing shows elevated radiation levels, the BOR will conduct a human health risk evaluation and remediation plan if needed.

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