The Online Newspaper of Lakewood High School

Lakewood Times

Lakewood Times

Lakewood Times

    Radioactive Contamination in a Ohio School


    Piketon is an Ohio city located a few miles away from a defunct nuclear plant. The nuclear plant, Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, has caused a Piketon middle school to close for the remaining school year for contamination. Zahn’s Corner Middle School had radioactive material, which is used in the creation of nuclear weapons, detected inside. Northern Arizona University conducted a study where they found enriched uranium inside the property as well as plutonium, uranium, and neptunium in water and dust samples collected from the surrounding community.

    The school will remain closed until further notice while the potential health and cancer risks are tested and evaluated. The Pike County Health Department has asked the state Department of Health to assist in independent sampling and testing. They also have requested that the construction of the disposal cell be stopped until the extent of the contamination is determined. However, the Department of Energy has stated they will not stop the construction until there is better data.

    According to the Department of Energy website, the plant was one of three large gaseous diffusion plants in the United States. It initially constructed to produce enriched uranium to support the nation’s nuclear weapons program, then later, it produced enriched uranium used by commercial nuclear reactors. After the Cold War, weapons-grade uranium enrichment was suspended and production facilities were leased to the private sector

    The levels detected in the middle school were far below the risk level, but school officials said they refuse to take any risks. The district will make sure there are no health risks before letting students return to school.

    Lakewood High School student, Lillian Utrata, was shocked to hear of the news. “It’s scary that students could have been harmed by radioactive exposure, but I bet the kids are happy to be out of school early.”

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