Portsmouth Cold War Plant Clean Up May Come to a Halt

Updated 6 years ago by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor

The Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, which provided nuclear weaponry during the Cold War,may cease its decommissioning and waste clean up. Work has been on-going, but an estimated $110 million is needed to decontaminate the grounds so that other industry can operate at the 110 acre site.

The Department of Energy owns the site. However, 675 members of the united Steelworkers Union could be laid off by the end of September.

PGDP has been clouded by  a blighted worker health legacy. Cold War  Workers were not told when hired that they would be working near radioactive chemicals, which would slowly destroy their health.

Huntington, which once had the Atomic Energy Commission (now DOE) Huntington Pilot Plant. It operated  from 1951-1962, then went to cold stand by until its eventual demolition in 1978-1979. Portions of the HPP determined by 1970s technology to be radioactively contaminated were taken to a classified landfill in Piketon, where trucks, papers, and pipes were buried. HPP processed uranium and recycled uranium fuels from Portsmouth, Paducah and Oak Ridge using a secret nickel alloy process to these nuclear facilities.

Pike County Commissioner, Blaine Beekman, in a recent TV interview stressed "there are existing landfills and plumes leftover from the gaseous diffusion day, one of which would be leaking if they were not pumping (sludge) back. It's not only a jobs issue... it's a safety issue for the people that live here."


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