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Historic American Engineering Record, Glenn L. Martin Company, Titan Missile Test Facilities, Waterton Canyon Road & Colorado Highway 121, Lakewood, Colorado, 1993, Library of Congress


Air Force Plant #79

Air Force Plant #79, also referred to as the Air Force Plant Peter J. Kiewit and Sons (PJKS), was a missile test site utilized by the Air Force from 1957 to 1968. Acting as the main tenant and operator, the Glenn L. Martin Company (later Lockheed Martin) was tasked with using this 464-acre plant, located 25 miles southwest of Denver near Waterton Canyon, to design, assemble, and test Titan rockets. Other research included fuel purification and development. Even after the end of missile testing, the site continuously violated the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. Of the many infractions, groundwater contamination from toxins such as trichloroethene and n-nitrosodimethylamine have contributed to serious public health and ecological concerns. In 1993, the Environmental Protection Agency initiated the Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study to better understand the extent of the contamination and form a cleanup plan. The Air Force transferred ownership to Lockheed Martin in 2001.

Studies at the PJKS Air Force plant site, which today includes agricultural and recreational lands, have identified 56 specific locations containing large concentrations of pollutants. Mostly derived from solvents and fuels tested in the plant, these pollutants pervade groundwater, surface water, and soils at the site and pose ongoing risks to health. Past waste disposal practices and accidental spills dispersed the chemicals in the surrounding area. Today, residential use, groundwater use, and the alteration of the area's vegetation are prohibited due to the ongoing contamination threat.


Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment. "Air Force Plant PJKS." Accessed December 13, 2020.

Environmental Protection Agency. “Superfund Site: Air Force Plant PJKS Littleton, CO.” Accessed June 12, 2021.

USAF Center for Engineering and the Environment. "Focused Feasibility Study (CDRL A001B) Former USAF Plant PJKS, Waterton Canyon, Colorado." November 9, 2010. Accessed June 12, 2021

U.S. Air Force. "Proposed Plan for Final Groundwater and Soil Remediation at Former USAF Plant PJKS Waterton Canyon, Colorado." December 2011. Waybackmachine.com. Accessed June 9, 2020.

Wikipedia. “Air Force Plant PJKS.” June 1, 2020. Accessed April 4, 2021.


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