Contaminated Debris of Huntington Pilot Plant Transported by Truck in 1979

by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor
A uranium biscuit
A uranium biscuit
file photo

“I did my country wrong,” stated a Owen Thompson, a  former worker at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, referring to health problems.

Diana Salisbury. A member of local environmental groups, including Serpent Mount/Ohio Brush Creek Alliance and Portsmouth/Piketon Residents for Environmental Safety and Security, testified in 1994 about the transport and burial of the plant in Piketon, Ohio. Her testimony was before the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments, December 16, 1994 in Washington, D.C. It’s now public record.

 The Inco Nickel Plant was dismantled, because it was contaminated with uranium, asbestos, and nickel carbonyl.  The factory was so contaminated with uranium, asbestos, and nickel carbonyl that it had to be removed from the city of Huntington, West Virginia.

  One contractor died immediately during the dismantling, and another died within a few days, indicating a pretty high dose.  The full account given by Owen Thompson of this incident is not even in the public record.    The documents on this project indicate that the scrapmetal from the Inco plant was to be transported by truck from West Virginia to the Portsmouth site in November of 1978 through March of 1979. Salisbury continued,

“Now what is crucial about this incident is there was nothing done to mitigate any exposure to any of the communities where this material was being transported, and this was hauled in at night and buried at night on the plant site while machine gun guards stood over Owen Thompson.” (HNN has previously interviewed two of those guards.)

    The Columbus Citizen-Journal printed two articles on the Huntington plant in March 1980. They were headlined: “Contaminated scrap from a West Virginia uranium enrichment factory is buried in Piketon” and “Contaminated scrap from a West Virginia uranium enrichment factory is buried in Piketon.”   ***   According to a Department of Energy document, the gaseous diffusion process (which made nuclear weapons and supplied nuclear power plants) was expanded in the 1950 with the development of 3,300 horsepower motors tied to axial compressors.   “Oak Ridge’s Final Judgment: The K-25 Fluoride Disaster” written by J,E. Phelps, an Oak Ridge whistle blower, explained: “The diffusion stages were then made of hundreds of 1/4 inch sintered nickel powder tubes housed in tanks larger than gasoline tanker trucks. The “cells” were house sized heat retention enclosures. The compressor motors were supplied with air from cooling ducts sealed with PCB impregnated gaskets for fire prevention,” the copyrighted document stated.   (Editor’s Note: Numerous articles by Phelps --- likely a pseudonym and admittedly the name of a “Mission Impossible” character --- have been disputed; however, not this particular document. It can be viewed in full at: )   HF LEAKS   Phelps, in his DOE WATCH “opinion” which we quote for educational purposes stated:

“The diffusion stages were made from nickel powder sintered with calcium- fluoride. A DOE plant in Huntington, West Virginia made fine nickel powder using the nickel carbonyl process to precipitate uniform sized metal particles from the nickel gas. The 5 micron sized nickel dust was mixed with calcium fluoride powder of similar fineness and cooked, at near 1400 degrees Centigrade, or "sintered" in a mold to make the barrier tubes of about 3/4 inch outside diameter and 3/8 inch inside diameter. The fluorine resistant tube arrays of around a hundred of these tubes were fitted to aluminum plates to fashion "tube bundles" that became the 1 micron diffusion barrier of the diffusion process...”

(CDC/NIOSH documents and interviews have previously confirmed that the HPP made and /or recycled diffusion plant barrier equipment.)

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