As part of a class-action lawsuit filed in May against numerous companies connected with the former operation of the defunct Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, consultants are spending time up the road from Portsmouth in Piketon conducting witness interviews with former plant personnel or others who claim knowledge of happenings at what is commonly known as the A-plant.
“At this time they are only able to schedule those who have direct and personal knowledge/proof of issues either at the A-Plant or releases from the plant: dust clouds, the white material in yards, etc.,” said long time and vocal critic of plant operations, Vina Colley, who serves as president of the grassroots group Piketon Residents for Environmental Safety and Security (PRESS.)
“Rumors are not helpful at this moment,” Colley added.
Those interested in speaking with consultants about their experiences in connection with the plant, must schedule appointments online by visiting https://radiationforensics.simplybook.me/v2/.
Colley said appointment times are limited.
Filed in federal court in Cincinnati, the suit begins by alleging the populace around the 3,777-acre plant “did not know that the operations at the Portsmouth site expelled air laden with radioactive materials and other metals.”
Another claim states “winds have carried the radioactive materials and other metals throughout the area in such concentrations that radioactive materials and metals can be found deposited in soils and buildings in and around Piketon.” The primary plaintiffs are identified as Jason and Ursula McGlone and their juvenile children, who live about two miles from the plant, according to the lawsuit.
Persons affected by plant operations, or later by activities aimed at demolishing the plant, could number in the thousands. The initial filing stated the suit is an action for property damage claims and not for personal injury.
The Cooper Law Firm of New Orleans is the lead firm in the case. In May, attorneys indicated they collected some 36 environmental samples in a seven-mile radius around the plant. As the crow flies, a seven-mile radius includes northern Scioto County. Colley has said she wants the studied radius extended to 10 miles.
In July, Cooper attorneys held an informational session in Piketon talking to hundreds of people many of whom presumably were eligible to become part of the class-action. In fact, finding members of the class was apparently a key point of the July session.
In mid-August, the federal Department of Energy announced an investigation into the plant’s radiation protection programs. While the Times was able to obtain confirmation of the investigation, a DOE spokesperson stated as the investigation is ongoing, not much information could be made public at this time.
Consultant visits being held currently are, according to Colley, unrelated to the investigation which legally can take up to 150 days from the date of the decision to investigate to complete. DOE’s investigative unit notified current plant contractors of their intention to investigate on or about Aug. 8.
Reach Tom Corrigan at (740) 370-0715. © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.