Despite Energy Department Outreach, Radiation Fears Remain In Piketon via WOSU Public Radio


In Waverly, a YMCA gym is lined with poster boards set up on easels. Glen Broughton stands in the middle, looking over a huge three-dimensional map of the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant.

“Our camper sets right here, and our house is just right off this lower corner,” he says, craning his neck toward one edge.

As fears of contamination from the former uranium enrichment plant grow, federal officials are trying to reassure their neighbors. The U.S. Department of Energy is hosting open houses like this one throughout Pike County—the final event is Thursday afternoon in Chillicothe.


Crystal Glass attended that middle school and grew up near the plant. She developed a benign tumor in her breast at 14.

“And then 20 years later, I got a very rare cancer; it’s called a Bartholin’s adenocarcinoma,” Glass says. “I was the youngest patient at Ohio State, the Cleveland Clinic, and MD Anderson.”

With her daughter Ruby hugging her leg, Glass explains that cancer typically affects women in their mid-60s. She was in her mid-30s.
About a month ago, Glass posted on Facebook asking others in Pike County who they knew who had developed cancer. More than 100 chimed in with stories about their parents, children or themselves. Many of them said nothing in their family history put them at risk for contracting their disease.

“There are tons of people with cancer and it’s just—you just can’t go door to door anywhere and everybody knows somebody or they have cancer in that household,” Glass says.

Pike County has the second-highest cancer rate in Ohio, but it’s only about 10 percent higher than the statewide rate. There are numerous anecdotal reports of rare cancers, but health officials have yet to conduct a targeted study of the area. Pike County’s health director wants to begin one soon.

Glass is healthy now, but she has to check in with a doctor every three months. And her cancer has altered what she had planned for her family.
“I really wanted another child, and I cannot have any more children,” she says. “I think at this point we were just focusing on surviving, and taking care of her, and then just not knowing really what the future holds.”

Glass says after she completes a nurse practitioner program early next year, she wants to move—probably back to Alabama. Her sister Tossie Seif is even more blunt.
“I feel like within a 50-mile radius needs to be just evacuated,” she says. “Everybody needs to go, because there’s so much cancer here.”

Read more at Despite Energy Department Outreach, Radiation Fears Remain In Piketon

Related article: US Secretary of Energy plegdes support for study of contamination leaking from Piketon A-plant via Portsmouth Daily Times

DOE critics also pointed to a third-party study done by an Arizona university purportedly showing uranium dust inside the school building itself. After that information was made public, DOE agreed to a third-party study to determine the extent and nature of any contamination reaching beyond the borders of the plant itself. That study also showed at least trace amounts of contaminants reaching an air monitoring station as far south as Lucasville in Scioto County.

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