Officials: Radioactive elements near Pike Co. middle school underreported

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PIKE COUNTY, OH (WCMH) — The level of radioactive elements in the area surrounding the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant was underreported in several reports, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. 

In a letter sent to Pike County General Health District Commissioner Matt Brewster, Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar said the error made by a DOE contractor was a “minor miscalculation.” 

According to Dabbar, the “miscalculation” appeared in the 2001 to 2017 Annual Site Environmental Reports and the 2001 to 2017 annual National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants Reports, which were provided to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.  

The letter reads, in part: “The contractor corrected the error, and after recalculating, the revised individual dose rates remain far below health and safety standards.” 

Dabbar wrote that the now-corrected dose rates were collected at air monitoring stations both on DOE property, as well as ten stations located in the community. 

The error was noticed on May 28, more than two weeks after officials with the Scioto Valley Local School District decided to close the Zahn’s Corner Middle School after independent testing detected enriched uranium in the building. 

A DOE air monitor, located across the street from the school, also detected neptunium. 

The DOE has pledged to pay for independent third-party testing of the environment surrounding the plant, which produced enriched uranium for decades. 

The plant is now an environmental cleanup site. 

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