by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor
It's time to find out what's buried here
It's time to find out what's buried here

Activities at the Atomic Energy Commission leased, Huntington (Reduction) Pilot Plant (HPP) have been “classified” for national security purposes often to deceive everyone but those privy to the secrets. Interestingly, documents sought by scientists for industrial chemicals do not have readily available guidelines for catastrophes such as the chemical leak into the Elk River in January. The reason for the unavailable data is corporate trade secrets. Unfortunately, those trade secrets pollute the water, air and soil in our environment which can prematurely kill us.

Some industrial processes at the Precision Castmetals/Special Metals/INCO facility, also home of the former HPP facility, remain shrouded in mystery. HNN’s interest is to ensure that the health of workers and the surrounding community are not unnecessarily impacted by current and legacy manufacturing.

Contaminated Nickel Scrap Processing (1994) describes processes that converted 200,000 tons of contaminated nickel scrap legacy waste. Some of the uses for the recycled nickel included auto bumpers, which were assembled at the now shut down Huntington Houdaille plant next to the former Olympic Pool. It closed in the 1970s.

The abstract stated:

Contaminants in DOE nickel scrap include these radioactive elements, Thorium 234, Protactinium 234Pa, Caesium 137, Plutonium  239 (trace), Cobalt 90 , Uranium, Technetium 99, and Neptunium 237 (trace). This report reviews several industrial-scale processes - electrorefining, electrowinning, vapometallurgy, and leaching - used for the purification of nickel. Conventional nickel electrolysis processes are particularly attractive because they use side-stream purification of process solutions to improve the purity of nickel metal. Additionally, nickel purification by electrolysis is effective in a variety of electrolyte systems, including sulfate, chloride, and nitrate. (Nickel carbonyl has been identified as one of the processes that was used at the HPP. The article explains its configuration and dangers, too.)



Nickel is a relative scarce, expensive and strategic metal. What are some of the reasons to purify previously used nickel?

“Its resistance to HF and UF6, have made nickel and nickel alloys ubiquitous in a variety of nuclear applications,” the report stated. Uranium Hexafluoride was manufactured at the gaseous diffusion plants in addition to hydrogen fluoride. Nickel alloys were utilized due to their heat resistance.




Fast forward to 2013 --- although the HPP/RPP was dismantled and buried in Piketon, Ohio, in 1979, where it would eventually contaminate an aquifier, documents supplied through EPA indicate that the plant had waste treatment violations for HF, hydrogen fluoride.


HF has been designated as extremely hazardous, according to the American Chemistry Council whose panel includes Honeywell.


Hydrogen fluoride is one of the many waste chemicals sent to the Huntington Wastewater Treatment Plant by Special Metals/Huntington Alloys, according to an EPA Waste Management file. The plant began receiving HF as early as 1987 and it has continued at least through 2010, the records show. .


An article with PDF attachments explaining HF found at the plant and released as waste can be found at: .


The full article, which includes the nickel carbonyl, can be downloaded as a PDF.

  1. Contaminated Nickel Processing (2.3 MB)
  2. Contaminated Nickel pt.2 (2.84 MB)