Apparently Clean up and Clean Operation are just “Fake News”
As reported by CNN, Newsweek, WLWT Cincinnati, the ExchangeMonitor, and a growing number of news outlets, radioactive contaminants detected at the Zahn’s Corner Middle School in Pike County, Ohio, (photo, right) located very near the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, has led to the school’s abrupt closure, and caused deep concern about the children’s health, and contamination of other area homes, surface waters, etc. The Pike County General Health District published a press release. There is concern that DOE’s highly controversial on-site radioactive waste and contamination disposal activities have liberated fugitive dust clouds, contaminated with hazardous radioactivity, causing the now-detected fallout downwind. Despite this, and frantic community concern, especially regarding the impact on children’s health, DOE is refusing to suspend the operations, claiming more data is needed.
As concerning as environmental contamination by Uranium-235 (and other uranium isotopes, for that matter) is, even more deeply concerning has been the detection of trans-uranics, such as neptunium, americium, and plutonium isotopes in the surrounding community and workforce, as well as fission products like artificial, radioactive cesium and technetium isotopes. The puzzling question is, where could such post-reactor irradiation hazardous radioactive contaminants have come from, at a uranium enrichment facility?
DOE’s Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, a facility located in Scioto Township, Pike County, Ohio, just south of Piketon, Ohio, previously produced enriched uranium, including highly-enriched, weapons-grade uranium for the United States nuclear weapons program, as well as low-enriched uranium, for nuclear power reactor fuel. Uranium straight from the mines would not contain such post-reactor irradiation trans-uranics and fission products. While DOE may try to deceptively claim that such elements are the result of atmospheric nuclear bomb testing global fallout, another explanation could well be that DOE “recycled” uranium, post-reprocessing, contaminated with such high-level radioactive waste ingredients.
After all, this is exactly what happened at Portsmouth’s sibling facility, the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, downstream on the Ohio River in Kentucky, as revealed by the Washington Post’s Joby Warrick in 1999. Such contamination in Paducah caused a deadly cancer epidemic, and other diseases, among the facility’s workforce, and in neighboring communities. Beyond Nuclear’s Alliance for Nuclear Accountability coalition partners, Coalition for Health Concerns in the Paducah area, and Portsmouth/Piketon Residents for Environmental Safety and Security (PRESS), have long watch-dogged these DOE facilities on behalf of their communities. (See ANA DC Days entry, below.) In more recent years, grassroots watch-dogs like the Ohio Sierra Club Nuclear-Free Committee have fought back against attempts to do uranium centrifuge enrichment at the Portsmouth site, and even centralized interim storage for commercial irradiated nuclear fuel, a precursor to reprocessing, as proposed by the George W. Bush administration DOE’s “Global Nuclear Energy Partnership” a decade ago.