GAO Report Warned of 50 Mile Environmental Hazard Zone; Plant Employee Saw Green Deer Treated

by Tony Rutherford , HNN Entertainment Editor
GAO Report Warned of 50 Mile Environmental Hazard Zone; Plant Employee Saw Green Deer Treated
HUNTINGTON, WV (HNN) – The Jewel City has been belittled as “obese,” “unfit,” and other derogatory stereotypes commonly placed on people who live in the Appalachian region. HNN has uncovered a 1985 GAO report introduced in testimony before an advisory committee on human radiation experiments in Washington, D.C., which impacts everyone living or dead within 50 miles of Portsmouth, Ohio.

While workers at the Huntington Pilot Plant from the INCO campus operated by the Atomic Energy Commission / Department of Energy handled uranium, plutonium , and nickel carbonyl, the dismantled plant was dismantled and removed from Huntington, WV during 1978-1979. It was buried in Piketon, Ohio, to remove the contamination from Huntington.

However, though, the HPP operated from about 1952-1961, then sat idle from 1962-1978, and was demolished in 1978-1979, the residents of Huntington, Ashland, Ironton and other cities within the Ohio River Valley have been exposed to atomic weapons materials during the operation of the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant.


Testifying before the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments (Dec. 16, 1994) Diane Salsbury stated , “The GAO report estimates that environmental releases affect the human and natural environment in a 50 mile radius from the plant.” The report comes from 1985.

Disturbing reports contained in this committee testimony and others describe uranium leaks and purges at the Piketon, Ohio, plant, how plutonium entered the Piketon , as well as the Paducah and Huntington (WV) plants, and descriptions of workers attempting to limit exposure to radiation following accidental releases.

Salsbury testified that “Portsmouth’s mission is to convert solid uranium gas to between two and five percent for commercial reactors and to more than 93 percent for nuclear weapons programs.” Covering 3800 acres and 10 million square feet of building space, PGDP contained a “cascade system which forced uranium through fluoride gas” to achieve 93% enrichment.

In order to operate, the plant emitted “atmospheric releases or what they call purges.”

A Columbus Dispatch story indicated that Piketon stopped producing weapons grade atomic fuels prior to the year 2000.


Former workers at the Huntington Pilot Plant (Reduction Pilot Plant) have described receiving materials from PGDP and others for recycling of nickel and uranium. At the time, Portsmouth received chemicals from West Valley, New York, Oak Ridge, Paducah , and other atomic weapons plants.

When workers in Huntington ran the contaminated contents from Piketon through the HPP/RPP for recycling, residue radiation from the chemicals and containers stayed on the pipes and infrastructure of the five story West Virginia building.

Worker interviews and official transcripts confirm that plutonium and other highly radioactive elements were in use or part of the Huntington plant contamination.

One worker up close and personal with HPP/RPP debris, Owen Thompson, told of “green” goo buried in the ditches. He also testified to seeing green growths on deer outside of the Piketon plant. Ironically, Mr. Thompson was born on September 11, but did not live to hear or see the 2001 terrorist attacks. He died  three years before the terrorist attacks at age 45 from  two brain tumors.

Owen Thompson and his wife testified about specific accidents and incidents in Piketon, including one involving the so-called “China Syndrome” and an indirect DOE order to place a Piketon unit in lead.

To Be Continued….

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