Middle school in Pike County closes due to radiological contamination

Zahn's Corner Middle School (WBNS-10TV)

PIKE COUNTY, Ohio – Zahns Corner Middle School in Pike County is closing for the remainder of the school year because of radiological contamination, the president of the Scioto Valley Local Board of Education said in a letter to parents and staff.

Air monitors nearby Zahns Corner Middle School detected Neptunium and an independent study found enriched Uranium.

The school is near the old gaseous diffusion plant where the Department of Energy is constructing a low-level nuclear waste disposal cell. The department says the levels are way below what's acceptable.

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The board then decided to close Zahns Corner Middle School “until the source, extent, level of contamination and potential impacts to public health and the environment can be determined.”

School leaders and community members want further testing before kids return to the school.

“They need to have a better communication with the school board, local officials and everything’s hush, hush, secret,” said Scioto Valley School District Board President Brandon Wooldridge.

The students have fulfilled their hours for the school year, so they're done with classes.

The DOE has agreed to pay for further independent testing but won't stop construction on the waste disposal cell. Below is the department’s response:

“Routine air samples in the area of DOE’s Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon revealed trace amounts of two radiological isotopes that were more than one thousand to ten thousand times below the established threshold of public health concern. DOE treats all detections seriously – even those that are at such low levels.

The Department of Energy is committed to the safety, health and protection of our workforce, the general public and the environment at all our sites. Accordingly, we are working together with the local officials and stakeholders to engage an independent third party to perform an additional analysis of the air and ground readings to properly assess the situation. We are confident that those findings will allay any cause for further concern.”

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