Published: June 1, 2014

An estimated 17,000 people joined hands to encircle the plant’s 17-mile perimeter

Amid stories of radioactive waste leaking in fields, 70 FBI agents and  Environmental Protection Agency staff descended on the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons production plant 25 years ago. They served the Department of Energy a search warrant, making it the first time in U.S. history that two federal agencies raided another.

Located eight miles south of Boulder, Rocky Flats operated continuously from 1952-89 during which 40,000 people worked at the site. They manufactured plutonium triggers used to detonate nuclear bombs.

Throughout the 1970s and ’80s, community members held peace protests. On Oct. 15, 1983, an estimated 17,000 people shown here joined hands to encircle the plant’s 17-mile perimeter.

A massive plant cleanup began in 1993 and ended in 2003. Today, more than 4,000 acres are part of the Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge.

Photography by SiriJodha Singh Khalsa