Published: April 6, 2018

Paper from the Adrienne Anderson Collection with a hand-drawn map that says Shallow Aquifers in the Denver Metro Area.

Along with her work as an instructor in Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder, Adrienne Anderson was a longtime environmental activist who worked with labor unions, neighborhoods affected by industrial pollution, and a host of organizations on behalf of environmental justice. As an activist with the Toxic Alliance Campaign when she came to Colorado, she helped to publicize the failure to truly protect workers from plutonium contamination, and the subsequent failed clean-up of the remains of the Rocky Flats Nuclear Plant. Her most celebrated campaigns began with the Friendly Hills neighborhood in Southwest Denver. Unusually high cancer rates were discovered there near the Martin Marietta plant, especially among young children. Cancers were associated with Martin Marietta's practice of pumping waste from production of rocket fuel into aquifers and pipelines serving the area's water supply. After being appointed by Mayor Wellington Webb to the Denver Metro Wastewater Reclamation District Board specifically to represent worker and union concerns, Anderson uncovered a massive cover-up of ground and surface water contamination by rocket propellants in suburban southwest Denver by Lockheed-Martin, and ground water contamination by toxics and radio-nuclides from Rocky Flats and other sites. These toxic materials were being illegally dumped into the Lowry Landfill, whose effluent enters the Platte River and leaches into aquifers providing water to the Denver Metro area.

File box from The Archives Adrienne Anderson Collection

100 Stories for 100 YearsThe University of Colorado Boulder Libraries will celebrate the centennial anniversary of the Archives on June 6, 2018. This is story #37 in our series: 100 Stories for 100 Years from the Archives