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Government recommends demolition of 200-plus buildings at site of former Ohio uranium plant

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WAVERLY, Ohio — The federal government recommends demolishing over 200 buildings at the site of a former Cold War-era uranium plant in southern Ohio and creating a disposal facility there for most of the waste.

At issue is the campus of the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon, roughly 60 miles south of Columbus. The facility produced enriched uranium until 2001.

The government is accepting public comment until Jan. 10 about whether the buildings should be torn down and whether any resulting waste — an estimated 1.5 million cubic yards of debris — should be left there or moved off-site, The Chillicothe Gazette (http://ohne.ws/1qtsqTG) reported.

About 100 people attended a public meeting this week, with some speaking in support of the recommended demolition and disposal facility.

Pike County Commissioner Blaine Beekman said after initially having a negative reaction, commissioners there and in adjacent Jackson, Ross and Scioto counties support the Department of Energy's recommendations for demolition and a disposal facility.

"We could accept the low-level waste cell at Piketon if, in return, DOE would commit to a cleanup of the existing (contaminated) plumes and landfills on site," he said.

Local union president Herman Potter said consolidating the plumes and landfills is key for potentially re-industrializing the site. He was among those who raised concerns that the department's written commitment to cleaning up the area leaves too much room for backing out of certain work.

Not everyone attending the meeting was fully on board with the plan. One speaker argued the comment period was too short for the complicated issues, and another worried about environmental implications.

"We want jobs and we want the cleanup to go forward, but if we build the (on-site disposal facility), there's no guarantee we're not going to become a national dump site," said Vina Colley, president of Portsmouth/Piketon Residents for Environmental Safety and Security.


Information from: Chillicothe Gazette, http://www.chillicothegazette.com

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