On Monday, the Zahn’s Corner School in Piketon, Ohio announced that the school will be closed for the remainder of the year due to increased risks of radioactive contamination from a nearby disused nuclear power plant.
“I felt paranoia, anger, and anxiety,” said a parent. “It is so scary that my kid has been always exposed to these toxic chemicals for years.”
The local authorities declared that enriched neptunium and uranium were spotted both inside the plant and around the school. The school president wrote a letter to warn and urge the Department of Energy to take proper actions to prevent radioactive components from leaving the area.
The Portsmouth nuclear power plant used to be one of 3 large facilities in the US which were constructed in the national nuclear weapons program plants. Its operation lasted between 1954 and 2001. After that, the government started a cleanup campaign to convert the site into a waste disposal area.
Though school officials are still asking for more examinations to measure the level of toxins and possible health risks to around 350 students, parents are worried about one thing: cancer. This has been already a major problem in the country with the incidence rate of up to 0.00488 between 2010 and 2015, which is 10% higher than the national level.
Many parents claim that the Department of Energy isn’t taking this issue seriously.
“I think they do not want to spend their extra money to do this, and now our children have to pay the prices,” said a mom of a 4-graded student. “It is quite obvious that the government does not care about this community at all.” Local people believe this is because the neighborhood is poor and doesn’t have enough money to suit.
In a recent statement, the Press Secretary of the Department of Energy – Kelly Love – said: “We always treat any detection seriously, even when they are at a low level. In the case of Piketon County, levels of radioactive chemicals are below the thresholds for public health concern.”
“We did not find out any enriched uranium in all air samples at the school,” said Kelly Love.
The department is cooperating with local and state authorities and the Piketon County to set up an independent third party to take another test and analysis. This would help remove any dispute and concern in the future.