Lawmaker: Uranium Found In Soil At Pinon Canyon Site

McKinley Also Wants To Know Why Army Didn't Ask For Help Fighting Wildfire

A Colorado lawmaker said high levels of uranium have been found in soil samples he took from Fort Caron's training site in southeastern Colorado.

Democratic state Rep. Wes McKinley said he collected the samples during a tour of the 238,000-acre Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site earlier this year and had them analyzed by a laboratory.

He didn't identify the lab.

The Army didn't immediately return phone messages.

McKinley said the samples showed uranium levels as high as 60 parts per million. State regulations require a cleanup if uranium levels are above 20 parts per million.

McKinley said Colorado's normal background radiation level is 5 to 6 parts per million.

He said he wants the state health department to investigate and to demand a federal cleanup.

Part of the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site has been burning for more than week, after lighting started a wildfire. The 48,000-acre Bridger Fire was 85 percent contained on Wednesday. During the initial days of the wildfire, Fort Carson chose to fight the fight alone and didn't ask for help, McKinley said.

"How in the world can we be doing what we do all over the globe, and (the Army) can't even take care of a fire in their backyard," McKinley asked. "This proves that if they can't take care of 250,000 acres. If they had 700,000, we'd have three times the danger, three times the exposure we've got now. We want answers. We don't want this to happen again."

He also questioned how the fire started. Fort Carson said it started from the lightning strike, but McKinley said there are "persistent rumors" that the Army was conducting a controlled burn and it got out of hand.

McKinley said the burn would have been "illegal," since the area was under a fire ban at the time.

According to the lawmaker, Fort Carson said the fire started on Tuesday, but local residents reported seeing smoke early Monday.

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