Hundreds gather in Piketon for town hall on alleged radioactive contamination

Hundreds of people line up at the OSU Endeavor Center in Piketon, Tuesday, for a town hall meeting. (Bryant Somerville, 10TV)
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PIKETON, Ohio - People stood in line for hours, Tuesday, wanting to make sure they and their families were safe.

"[I] wanted to see what information is available," Brandon Moore said. "What are we doing to help all these folks that are impacted or that may be impacted in the future?"

"I just want to make sure what's going on if there was any contamination there or where we're at," Steve Copper said. "I want to make sure we got everything taken care of."

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"These materials are ounce-for-ounce the most dangerous materials known to man," Stuart Smith said.

Smith is with Cooper Law Firm out of New Orleans. It was his firm that filed the lawsuit in May alleging Ohio residents near a former uranium enrichment plant in Piketon were exposed to radioactive contaminants that spread to other properties but were never informed.

"We believe there were contractors, Department of Energy contractors on that plant, that allowed these materials to escape the fence line," Smith said.

Media was not allowed in the meeting room, which could hold only 75 people per fire code. Everyone else had to wait their turn as each session lasted about an hour-and-a-half.

"I think the people that worked here at the plant assumed a risk when you took the job," Rebecca Jennings said. "I don't think that necessarily holds true for the people in the community."

Jennings says she used to work at the plant.

Some people say if there was contamination and if the plant didn't notify people who lived near it, then potentially you are talking about hundreds of lives that might be at risk.

"It'd be very aggravating because you're talking about a lot of lives here that's going to be affected by it," Copper said.

The Department of Energy released this statement, Tuesday:

"The Department is committed to the health and safety of the Piketon community. All previous data has indicated that there is no threat to the public's safety. In light of the recent concerns of the community surrounding the closure of Zahn's Corner Middle School, Secretary Perry sent a technical team from the world-class National Labs to Piketon to take a comprehensive sampling of the school. That data is now under evaluation and will be released soon."