Residents of Pike County, Ohio have filed a proposed class action over the alleged contamination of their properties by radioactive material stemming from uranium enrichment operations that occurred at a 3,777-acre area known as the Portsmouth Site.
September 11, 2020 – “Akin to A Creeping Chernobyl”: Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant Operators Hit with Another Lawsuit
More than 20 more plaintiffs, including the estates of two deceased individuals, have signed on to a new proposed class action centered on Piketon, Ohio’s Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant and the apparent harm the 3,777-acre nuclear industrial site caused to surrounding communities, at least the third such suit filed since May 2019.
Centrus Energy Corp., United States Enrichment Corp., Lockheed Martin, Uranium Disposition Services, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and a slew of other entities and individuals are alleged in the 76-page complaint to have acted with “flagrant disregard for human life” in their “past operation and present decommissioning, decontamination, and demolition” of the facility, which used to produce highly enriched uranium for use in weapons and by power plants and the U.S. Navy.
According to the lawsuit, the “ongoing tragedy” of the poisoning of nuclear workers, their families, school children and countless others living near the facility through land, water, and air contamination is the result of both the “negligent, reckless, and criminal” operation of the plant as well as the failure of legislators and elected officials, among others, to property protect residents, homes and businesses from toxic exposure.
“The contaminants that the Defendants exposed their employees and contractors to and discharged upon the region include heavy metals, chemicals, gases, particulates, and radioactive materials including transuranic elements, some of the most harmful substances on earth,” the suit says, characterizing the situation created by the defendants—and the U.S. Department of Energy—as “akin to a creeping Chernobyl.”
Per the case, the defendants and the Department of Energy and its contractors “actively conspired to conceal the extent” of nearby environmental contamination, as well as the extent to which workers suffered injuries and nuclear exposure.
The complaint, filed September 3, can be found here.
Residents of Pike County, Ohio have filed a proposed class action lawsuit over the alleged contamination of their properties by radioactive material stemming from uranium enrichment operations that occurred at a 3,777-acre area known as the Portsmouth Site.
The lawsuit names as defendants the operators of a gaseous diffusion plant, a centrifuge facility, and a depleted uranium hexafluoride conversion plant on the site, as well as the entities responsible for remediation and waste management. According to the lawsuit, the defendants’ operations at the Portsmouth Site have caused the surrounding area to become contaminated with radioactive materials.
The case says residents were first alerted to the presence of radioactivity when Zahn’s Corner Middle School in Piketon was closed down in May 2019 due to health concerns associated with the detected presence of enriched uranium inside the building. A recent study conducted by Northern Arizona University reportedly concluded that radioactive materials were present in the surface waters, sediments, interior dusts, and air in the Piketon area surrounding the Portsmouth Site.
The lawsuit argues that the defendants were aware of the dangers and health risks associated with exposure to radioactive materials yet assured residents of the Piketon area that Portsmouth Site operations had not contaminated nearby properties or presented a danger to public health.
“Defendants could not have prevented all risks from harm to humans from their operations,” the complaint asserts, “but they could have prevented or mitigated the offsite impact with better precautionary measures, compliance with applicable regulations, and the use of reasonable care. The foreseeable risks of harm posed could have been reduced or avoided by reasonable instructions or warnings when it became clear that toxins had been released into the environment.”