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Piketon school closes because of radioactive contamination fears

Napoleon

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A school district in southern Ohio has closed its middle school because of concerns of radioactive contamination from a shuttered uranium enrichment plant fewer than five miles away.

The Scioto Valley Local School District announced it was closing Zahn’s Corner Middle School on Monday after U.S. Department of Energy officials said they had no plans to stop their work at the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, a 3,000–acre facility that stopped producing enriched uranium in 2001. Energy Department contractors are building a waste disposal site on the plant as they work to clean up the site.

County Health Department officials became concerned about contamination after the recent release of a 2017 Energy Department report that said the DOE found traces of neptunium at an air-monitoring station on the grounds of the middle school. Neptunium is a carcinogen linked to bone cancers.

So the gist of this is that some genius zoned a school within five miles of a weapons-grade uranium and plutonium enrichment facility. The water and homes in the surrounding area have also tested positive for plutonium, uranium and neptunium contamination. But it is a great example of why nuclear energy is not a good alternative to fossil fuels - the US government sucks at responsible disposal of nuclear waste.
 

vanceen

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So the gist of this is that some genius zoned a school within five miles of a weapons-grade uranium and plutonium enrichment facility. The water and homes in the surrounding area have also tested positive for plutonium, uranium and neptunium contamination. But it is a great example of why nuclear energy is not a good alternative to fossil fuels - the US government sucks at responsible disposal of nuclear waste.

I'm wondering how on earth there would be plutonium or neptunium at a uranium enrichment facility.

Plutonium and neptunium are formed in nuclear reactors. Plutonium does not require enrichment and neptunium has no weapons applications. There is no reason that there should be any trace of either near a uranium enrichment site.
 

Napoleon

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I'm wondering how on earth there would be plutonium or neptunium at a uranium enrichment facility.

Plutonium and neptunium are formed in nuclear reactors. Plutonium does not require enrichment and neptunium has no weapons applications. There is no reason that there should be any trace of either near a uranium enrichment site.

It would seem the government has not been transparent about what it’s been doing at this facility. People knew that it was producing weapons grade Uranium but the presence of Neptunium, a byproduct of Plutonium production, was a surprise. But I suppose the larger issue here is that the DOE knew about this contamination for at least two years and didn’t say anything.
 

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It would seem the government has not been transparent about what it’s been doing at this facility. People knew that it was producing weapons grade Uranium but the presence of Neptunium, a byproduct of Plutonium production, was a surprise. But I suppose the larger issue here is that the DOE knew about this contamination for at least two years and didn’t say anything.

I'm not convinced of the neptunium angle.

I've been to that site. I used to work for a company that is involved with the recycling if the depleted UF6 there. There was nothing there at all except the brand new recycling plant and many, many acres of stored DUF6.
 

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I'm wondering how on earth there would be plutonium or neptunium at a uranium enrichment facility.

Plutonium and neptunium are formed in nuclear reactors. Plutonium does not require enrichment and neptunium has no weapons applications. There is no reason that there should be any trace of either near a uranium enrichment site.

I would suspect they were using the facility for storage.
 

Mr Person

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So the gist of this is that some genius zoned a school within five miles of a weapons-grade uranium and plutonium enrichment facility. The water and homes in the surrounding area have also tested positive for plutonium, uranium and neptunium contamination. But it is a great example of why nuclear energy is not a good alternative to fossil fuels - the US government sucks at responsible disposal of nuclear waste.

The last sentence does not follow. If something doesn't work because the people who did it sucked, that doesn't mean that thing is generically a bad thing. Things done wrong can be done right.
 
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