Councilwoman States Three Children Have Died from Cancer; Ohio School Closed Due to Enriched uranium, Neptunium Contamination

Updated 45 weeks ago Edited by Tony Rutherford from Multiple Reports
Councilwoman States Three Children Have Died from Cancer; Ohio School Closed Due to Enriched uranium, Neptunium Contamination

Update: In a conference call with media, United States Senator Rob Portman has said a third party independent analysis will be conducted at the PGDP . Americonium has now been found at the school site.    

A Ohio school has been closed due to the presence of enriched uranium inside and neptunium in the air, according to a letter sent to parents from the Scioto Valley Local School District. Zahn Corner Middle School is about four miles from the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PGDP) where nuclear materials were processed and demolition continues on its decommissioning. A Pike County councilwoman has stated there has been a children's cancer case each year for five years; three children passed away. 

The Cincinnati Enquirer quoted a young mom  living little more than a mile from the plant asked, "What can I do to protect my family?"


During the PGDP plant's  history which began in the 50s the Atomic Energy Commission and its successor the Department of Energy maintained that no radioactive and/or toxic materials have left the plant premises confining health impacts to certain workers. By contrast, citizen and employee activists have disputed the official reports, including producing documents by other governmental agencies and eyewitnesses which dispute the DOE position.

Former Atomic energy plants from the cold war era extend across the US. Many have been environmentally cleaned and/or designated superfund sites. huntington, W.Va.'s contribution to the nuclear industry was located on the premises of the International Nickel Company (now Special Metals). The Huntington Pilot Plant (HPP) worked with barrier materials  from Piketon and other diffusion plants containing such radioactive substances as Uranium 235, neptunium ,  plutonium, and by products from the mid 50s until 1963. The plant sat in "cold stand by " until 1978-1979 when it was dismantled and carted in open trucks to a classified landfill for radioactive materials on the Piketon site. Eye witnesses told HNN Machine gun armed security guards oversaw the burial under cover of darkness. 

"The Scioto Valley Local School District was notified that enriched uranium was detected inside Zahn's Corner Middle School and that Neptunium 237 was detected in a U.S. Department of Energy air monitor located adjacent to Zahn's Corner Middle School," the letter states. "As a result of this information, the SVLSD Board of Education has made the decision to close the Zahn's Corner Middle School until the source, extent, level of contamination, and potential impacts to public health and the environment can be determined."

"It is the position of the Board that any level of contamination on or near our school is unacceptable."



Senior DOE officials released the following statement to WLWT:

"Routine air samples in the area of DOE's Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon revealed trace amounts of two radiological isotopes that were more than one thousand to ten thousand times below the established threshold of public health concern. DOE treats all detections seriously - even those that are at such low levels."

The school will be closed at least for the remainder of the year. 

The Chillicothe Gazette summarized that the findings come following the release of a Northern Arizona tech memo from the Pike County health District:

"The highlights of the findings, according to Brewster, included discovery of enriched uranium inside the middle school, the detection of non-fallout neptunium in water and sediment samples taken from a private property adjacent to where the Department of Energy is constructing an on-site wasted disposal cell and the detection of enriched uranium and non-fallout neptunium on private properties and state waterways."

Jennifer Chandler, a Piketon village councilwoman, told the Columbus Dispatch that she knows of five students diagnosed with cancer. Three of them died, she said. 

“My concern is that we are at one student a year,” she said. “What are the health effects on our community? I know every single one of those students who had a cancer diagnosis.”

Michael Ketterer, a professor emeritus of chemistry and biochemistry at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, told the Columbus Dispatch that  he believes the contamination is widespread. Over 80  water and dust samples collected by a plant neighbor tested  positive for plutonium, uranium and neptunium.  The radioactive materials detected neptunium in water and sediment samples from a private property adjacent to the construction site and enriched uranium, neptunium and plutonium on private properties and streams and creeks.

His report concludes:

'To a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, the authors opine that the PORTS facility is the source of the anthropogenic (enriched) uranium found in the offsite environment. The PORTS facility, to a similar degree of reasonable scientific certainty, is also the source of the non-fallout 237Np and Pu, as well as the elevated Np atom concentrations encountered in the offsite environment. These statements are based upon: i) the obvious deviations of the signatures from natural U and/or global fallout; ii) the explanation provided by the Moody signatures; iii) the presence of nonfallout 236U as an indicator of “recycled U”, and iv) the absence of any other plausible local source that explains our observed results.' (download full report below)

Scioto Valley Local School District Superintendent Todd Burkitt told WLWT, "There's just not a playbook in how we deal with this. We're kind of writing the script as we go."

"We aren't prepared for something like this, that's for sure," said Jennifer Chandler, Village of Piketon councilwoman. "We, at this point, don't know how far the contamination has reached. That will be part of the ongoing investigation."

Vina Colley , a former worker and president of PRESS, which opposes the waste cell and has contended since early 2000 that radiation leaks from the plant:

This contamination was first reported by PRESS/NNWJ, Marvin Resnikoff and Mary B David in 2005. They never listened to our warnings. "So how long have these Children been exposed?" said Colley.

The PRESS/NNWJ release continues:

The NAU report shows that there is offsite contamination and that contamination is coming from the PORTS facility.  The Pike County General Health District declared that the following actions should  be carried out in the interest of protecting public health and the environment:

1. Independent sampling and risk assessment of offsite properties must begin immediately under the oversight of the Ohio Department of Health and the Pike County General Health District to determine the source and extent of contamination, with a high priority to develop an action plan within thirty days that addresses the contamination inside the Zahn’s Corner Middle School.

2. All construction activities related to the onsite disposal cell must cease immediately, until the extent of contamination is understood and to prevent the release of radiological contaminants from the construction site onto private property.

3. Open air demolition of the process buildings must not proceed until it can be independently verified that demolition activities can be performed without offsite impacts. "

Various Ohio media have reported reaction for Sen. Rob Portman, R–Ohio, said Portman “is aware of the situation and is working with the US Department of Energy and Ohio EPA to better understand all of the data presented to ensure the safety and health of the residents, families, and workers of the Piketon community.”

a spokeswoman for Sen. Sherrod Brown, D–Ohio, said Brown is working with the Senate Appropriations Committee “to hold DOE accountable and get answers on behalf of the community.”

Both senators including Ky. Sen.  Mitch McConnel (R) who has the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in his state have been bombarded with documents over the years by activists warning of radiotion spread through leaching and air. 

A plan to dig up and rebury classified radioactive debris that includes portions of the Huntington Pilot Plant has since been putt on the back burner. 


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