As ‘Gates Plant' redevelopment moves forward, questions raised about contamination

TCE plume still being remediated

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DENVER -- There is growing excitement over the recently announced plans to redevelop the old Gates Rubber Company site.

But the announcement has also drawn reaction from residents concerned about contamination.

One viewer called Denver7 saying he "wouldn't walk his dog on the site," likening it to Rocky Flats.

That's a bit of a stretch — the contamination at Rocky Flats was radioactive.

At the Gates site, it's TCE, Trichloroethylene, a cleaning agent used in manufacturing.

State workers discovered the contamination while they were digging on the site years ago. At one point, a plume of contaminated ground water extended all the way to Washington Park.

Since then, remediation efforts have dramatically reduced that plume.

"It's just on the north side of the property," near the (light rail) flyover," said Lisa Duker-Ingle, the Broadway Station project manager.

Should that TCE be of any concern?  

Ryan Taylor told Denver7 that he'd live at the sight unless officials discovered something more dangerous.

"I wouldn't think twice about it because of the contamination," he said, "until I have significant reason to otherwise."

Kraig Strobel takes a different tact. He lives in Golden near the old Rocky Flats plant, so he is environmentally aware.

"There could be some concern," he said. "If they have some reports, that's something I'd definitely look at before I'd move in."

Duker-Ingle said Gates installed a robust remediation system, which basically uses molasses to biologically degrade the TCE.

"There's no contaminated soil at this time," she said. "There is ground water contamination that we are currently working with."

Duker-Ingle said no buildings will be constructed on the ground above that plume for 10 to 12 years.

That will give remediation crews more time to eliminate the plume.

She said the remaining property is safe.

We asked Sabrina Lopez if she'd consider living there then, and got a surprising response.

"It's not the fear of contamination," she said. "It's just the price. If the price is low enough, I'd live there."

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