Now, 18 years after the plant ceased operations, Zahns Corner Middle School in Piketon, Ohio, has been forced to close after an air monitor detected enriched uranium and neptunium-237 in the area.
In a letter from the school board posted on the school district website, the president of the Board of Education Brandon Woolridge writes: “The Scioto Valley Local School District was notified that enriched uranium was detected inside the Zahns Corner Middle School building and that Neptunium 237 was detected in a US Department of Energy air monitor located adjacent to the Zahns Corner Middle School.”
“As a result of this information, the SVLSD Board of Education has made the decision to close the Zahns Corner Middle School until the source, extent, level of contamination, and potential impacts to public health and the environment can be determined.”
Enriched uranium and neptunium 237 are “contaminants of concern” as they potentially could cause cancer, the CDC reports: “Your chance of getting cancer from uranium is greater if you are exposed to enriched uranium.”
Local councilwoman, Jennifer Chandler, spoke to CNN about her concerns regarding five children who had been diagnosed with cancer in the district, three of whom unfortunately passed.
“How is this caused? Is this a genetic cancer? Is this an environmental cancer? I’m not a medical professional.” She continued, “This isn’t a game, you know. These are people’s lives.”
Decommissioning and decontamination is underway at the former nuclear plant.
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