13 November 2006

A Glowing Future for Pike County

Item no.1 from this week:

Cleanup Of Piketon Uranium Plant May Top $4.5 Billion

The Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, which once enriched uranium for weapons and nuclear fuel, closed in 2001.

Some of the most dangerous cleanup work is being done inside three massive enrichment buildings, where workers are removing uranium deposits that cling to surfaces inside equipment and 600 miles of piping.

The newspaper said the government has spent $1 billion so far digging up soil, emptying ponds, capping unlined toxic landfills, treating groundwater and hauling contaminants away -- more than 43,000 containers of hazardous, radioactive and other waste and 8,400 tons of radioactive scrap metal.

Digest those numbers for a moment. $4.5 billion. 600 miles of piping. 43,000 containers. 8,400 tons of metal. Is it really surprising that...

Still, there is evidence of offsite contamination...

Tests on two area deer killed by cars showed traces of uranium isotopes in the livers of both and in the muscle of one.

Traces of uranium were also found in milk and egg samples from area farms, and in three vegetables taken from the gardens of plant neighbors.

Air, water and sediment tests also revealed small amounts of radioactive uranium, plutonium or technetium, and three fish from area waterways had traces of uranium or plutonium.

The DOE says the trace amounts aren't dangerous, but I think the key issue is not how much leeched out, but that it leeched out in the first place. And I'll bet most people would rather take a multivitamin than eat food fortified with plutonium, uranium and technitium.

And related item no.2 from a couple weeks ago:

Schmidt Considers Nuke Waste

[Jean] Schmidt has signed on to an effort by the Southern Ohio Diversification Initiative (SODI) and a Cleveland-based company called SONIC to seek a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant of up to $5 million for a study of whether the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion plant should be a site for temporary storage and recycling of spent nuclear fuel rods.

At the urging of SODI and SONIC, Schmidt wrote a letter last month to U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman urging DOE to consider Piketon for the nuclear waste storage and recycling program.

Why not store the waste in Clermont and Warren counties? That's where the people who actually voted for her live.

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