FLASHBACK: Portsmouth, Huntington Received “Hot” Materials from Hanford

Updated 9 years ago by Tony Rutherford HuntingtonNews.Net Reporter
FLASHBACK:   Portsmouth, Huntington Received “Hot” Materials from Hanford

Decommissioning and decontamination continues at the Hanford site, where the plutonium facility evokes such danger that workers hang their ID badges on the outside, so in case of an explosion (nicely termed “criticality event” by the Department of Energy) rescue workers know who is/was inside.

A Bloomberg Business Week article published August 1 profiled what it termed “the most dangerous workplace in the world, where from 1944 to 1989 about 74,000 tons of weapons-grade plutonium were refined into the U.S. nuclear arsenal. As a result, the venue has contamination from plutonium but such by products as hexavalent chromium (the discharge which activist Erin Brockovich honed national attention). Enough residual plutonium remains at the site to build ten bombs the size of the one that destroyed Niagasaki, the article stated.

FLASHBACK:   Portsmouth, Huntington Received “Hot” Materials from Hanford

Department of Energy documents stated that about 450 billion gallons of industrial and radiological contaminants were dumped into the soil and storage tanks (the latter of which leaked about a million gallons of waste, which threatened Northwestern water supplies).

As a result, a significant part of the project is construction of a $335 million dollar groundwater treatment plant, to prevent the radioactive and other poisons from “leaching” into a 50 mile span of the Colorado River.A system of wells, pipes and pumping stations extract the contaminated ground water, send it through filters and sends injections of clean water into the ground, the article explained.

Plutonium Residue at Hanford still has the capacity to trigger an explosion. To avoid “concentrating (too much) fissile material in one place”, the article states that every “rag, bag and brush” whether in a glovebox or water container had to be monitored to prevent the explosive dust from triggering a blue flash.

FLASHBACK:   Portsmouth, Huntington Received “Hot” Materials from Hanford

Workers at Hanford wear dosimeter’s that measure exposure to radioactivity, including a Personal Nuclear Accident Dosimeter which counts neutrons. Otherwise known as a “death chip”, this type of radiation normally occurs during a blast or meltdown.

Hanford’s plutonium was converted by machines into bomb triggers at Rocky Flats in Colorado. There a “paint chip falling off a wall” was enough to trigger radiation monitors, the Bloomberg reported stated.


The dismantling and clean up at Hanford has incorporated lessons and technologies from the Rocky Flats decommissioning, and, the ground water leaching and preventions resembles steps found necessary at Maxey Flats (in Kentucky) and the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant (Piketon, Ohio) where contaminated materials leeched into the soil and have edged closer to water supplies.

FLASHBACK:   Portsmouth, Huntington Received “Hot” Materials from Hanford

The PGDP at Piketon operated primarily in conjunction with the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant. The Portsmouth plant primarily enriched uranium for commercial nuclear reactors naval reactors, and Savannah River Plant plutonium reactors. In addition, recycled uranium came from such sources as Hanford. The contamination is primarily neptunium, plutonium, and the highly water soluble technetium. Much of this waste was buried without any packaging. Although the site has creeks, drainage ditches and holding ponds, surface water drains into the Scioto River which leads to the Ohio River.


Groundwater plumes have primary concentrations with technetium, TCE, and uranium. Disposal shipping has been to Hanford, Utah, and Oak Ridge, Tenn.

The Paducah, Ky. plant initially produced materials for nuclear weapons, the plant which began enriching uranium in 1952 also recycled uranium for reactors at Hanford and Savanna. Converted material (uranium hexafluoride) was sent to PGDP in Ohio for additional enrichment. According to Toxipedia.org, the shipments to Paducah contained about 328 grams of plutonium, 18.4 kilograms of neptunium and 661 kilograms of technetium-99.

Buried materials at the Kentucky site leeched into the ground water.  An equivalent of fifteen 30 gallon drums with trichloroethylene and uranium may have corroded and leaked away.

FLASHBACK:   Portsmouth, Huntington Received “Hot” Materials from Hanford



The X-749A Piketon burial site contains the remains of the Huntington (WV) Pilot Plant a.k.a. Reduction Pilot Plant. Available records indicate that the contents of the landfill include aluminum dross (slag), security ashes, barrier scrap, tube sheets, seal parts, floor sweepings (lube oil and sawdust that may contain PCBs, asbestos, and radionuclides), and parts from a nickel powder processing plant that may contain nickel carbonyl. Available records indicate that contents underwent decontamination, as necessary, before disposal in the unit.Floppy discs, ashes, decontaminated machine parts whose function was classified (or materials used in construction) and process equipment from a metal working plant which manufactured machine parts for PGDP. (Eyewitnesses state at time of burial of the HPP, the work was done under machine gun guard).Based on the Atomic Energy Act, such materials must be covered by at least four feet of soil or an equivalent barrier to visual or physical access.

Monitoring wells and other post-burial activities include extensive testing for surface water runoff, leachate outbreaks, and emergency plans following storms, riot or tornado. Casual foot and vehicular traffic is not permitted. Groundwater monitoring is in conformance with IGWMP.

A revised corrective action plan was filed June 16, 2011 by Ohio EPA (and September 2010 by EPA) for groundwater monitoring at the classified site as well as closed hazardous and solid waste land disposal units whose corrective measures may fall under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Program.  http://www.huntingtonnews.net/52632 ; http://www.huntingtonnews.net/2637


FLASHBACK:   Portsmouth, Huntington Received “Hot” Materials from Hanford

The HPP sat on the other side of the railroad tracks from portions of the Dietz Hollow landfill.

A worker for the Building and Trades Medical Screening Worker who worked at the Nickel Plant confirmed to HNN in a November 2010 interviewthat the Huntington Landfill (Dietz Hollow) contains scrap from the radioactively contaminated then “secret” atomic weapons manufacturer. In fact, the contamination was so “hot” that a decision to place debris at Dietz Hollow was overruled and authorities decided to truck most of the debris from the contaminated dismantled building to the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant site in Piketon, Ohio.

After officials in Huntington “stopped” scrap materials from the HPP going to a city landfill,Ron Bush said the landfill was closed.At Piketon, Bush (and others) recalled, “bringing the scrap metal and [contaminated materials] to the Piketon plant. As I understand, the last two trucks were semi-dump trucks. The driver’s drove them into the pit, then walked out. Railcars were pushed in the hole, [after which the materials were ] buried and capped”.The burial was under machine gun watch according to other eyewitnesses.



Other workers on and off record have previously statedgiven similar, though non-specific, statements.

Bush, nowthe outreach medical screening worker, had said that most of the former workers have not taken advantage of screenings.  

“[Workers] would take contaminatedstuff out of thepilot plant and use it” inportions of the INCO plant., Bush said.

Various fears exist ranging from “it’s still classified” to speaking about activities in the past will lead to possible closure of all the operating plant and, thus, impact current employees and former employees on pensions.

In addition to interviewees from Huntington, the regional project from Portsmouth interviews formers workers at the Fernald plant, the Mound, Paducah, all Oak Ridge and Portsmouth employees.

Bush recalled 400 pounds of radioactive materials ending up at a Jackson, Ohio scrap dealer, too.

FLASHBACK:   Portsmouth, Huntington Received “Hot” Materials from Hanford

Advocating for expansion of acceptance into the program, the outreach worker stated. Asked about the radiation impacting neighborhoods surrounding these atomic plants, Bush said, “It’s in the drinking water. The ground water. It’s in the air. It’s on their automobiles. It’s in their garden.”

Speaking of wildlife seen by others in Piketon, he described “a deer with horns on one side” from the compound at Piketon or “a rabbit with five legs. I haven’t seen them, but that’s what workers have told me. There are a lot of deformed animals in that compound out there [in Piketon]. I hear about things like that most every time I interview a person.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Bush interview was conducted PRIOR TO the 2012-2013 on going revisions by NIOSH to the Huntington Pilot Plant description. It was also prior to the now wide spread allegations of dosimeter reading tampering at Portsmouth and Rocky Flats. A recent proposed Huntington Pilot Plant update has noted concerns about original data under estimating the half lives of elements.


A recent Material Safety Data Sheet (September 16, 2011) does NOT advise of any radioactive materials emerging from the Special Metals plant.Instead, components of a variety of alloys are listed which include nickel, chromium, iron, copper, manganese, cobalt and other metals.

(Material Safety Data Sheet (September 16, 2011)

As shipped, these complex alloys in massive form have no known toxicological properties other than causing allergic reactions in individuals sensitive to the meta ls contained in the alloys. Nickel, Cobalt, and so me forms of Chromium are known skin sensitizers.

Nickel and Cobalt also are classified as suspected carcinogens (EU Category 3). Absent specific test data for the alloy, mixtures(including alloys) that contain more than 1% of a substance are classified in the same manner as that substance.

Hazardous fume or dust emissions may be released during remelting, grinding, cutting or welding. In addition to Nickel and Cobalt, Hexavalent Chromium (a known human inhalation carcinogen – EU Category 2) may be generated during processing activities. If airborne emissions are excessive, inhalation may affect worker health.



A 2006 study detailed possible increased lung cancers for some combinations of these metals.

The abstract of a study on hexavalent chromium, manganese and nickel in human lung cells indicated that “workers who perform welding operations are at increased risk for bronchitis, siderosis, occupational asthma and lung cancer due to fume exposure. Welding fumes are a complex chemical mixture, and the metal composition is hypothesized to be an etiological factor in respiratory disease due to this exposure.  The study was dependent on the specific metals or combination of metals  (Tessier DM & Pascali LE, Sept. 9, 2006, Division of Occupation Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Illinois).