Zahn's Corner Middle School, Piketon, Ohio

Ohio middle school closed after uranium is detected

May 14, 2019
Zahn's Corner Middle School in Piketon, Ohio, is a few miles from a U.S. Department of Energy plan that is being decommissioned.

An Ohio middle school has been closed after enriched uranium was detected inside the building.

WCMH-TV reports that the enriched uranium was detected inside Zahn's Corner Middle School in Piketon, Ohio.  An air monitor adjacent to the middle school also has detected Neptunium 237.

The school is within four miles of the U.S. Department of Energy's Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, which is in the process of decommissioning.

The Scioto Valley Local School District has closed the middle school campus until the source, extent and level of contamination can be determined.

“It is the position of the Board that any level of contamination on or near our school is unacceptable,” the district says.

The district says the Department of Energy must take appropriate action to ensure radiological contaminants are not being released from the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant property.

The plant produced enriched uranium from 1954 until 2001. The Department of Energy now is conducting an environmental cleanup of the site.

The Department of Energy released the following statement:

"Routine air samples in the area of DOE’s Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon revealed trace amounts of two radiological isotopes that were more than one thousand to ten thousand times below the established threshold of public health concern.  DOE treats all detections seriously – even those that are at such low levels.

"The Department of Energy is committed to the safety, health and protection of our workforce, the general public and the environment at all our sites. Accordingly, we are working together with the local officials and stakeholders to engage an independent third party to perform an additional analysis of the air and ground readings to properly assess the situation. We are confident that those findings will allay any cause for further concern."

Piketon is about 65 miles south of Columbus and 95 miles east of Cincinnati.

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