Nuclear Contamination in Ohio
 Nuclear Contamination in Ohio: Radiation releases from Piketon, Ohio’s
Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant into local community are being tracked by
Dr. Michael Ketterer (above)

This Week’s Featured Interview:

  • Nuclear Contamination in Ohio is being tracked by Dr. Michael Ketterer, who has a PhD in Analytical Chemistry and has worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Enforcement, taught at John Carroll University, Northern Arizona University, Metropolitan State University of Denver, and at University of Denver. Since 2000, Michael has been conducting studies of plutonium in the environment, publishing and lecturing extensively, and has analyzed samples from locations worldwide. He is currently studying plutonium dioxide particles in soils near the former Rocky Flats facility in Colorado, and fingerprinting off-site contaminants near the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in southern Ohio. Michael is currently Professor Emeritus of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Northern Arizona University. We spoke on Friday, August 6, 2021.
  • LINK to NH #413, May 22, 2021: Radioactive Contamination in Ohio School SPECIAL: Whistleblower Vina Colley Exposes Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant History https://nuclearhotseat.com/2019/05/22/radioactive-contamination-ohio-school-whistleblower-vina-colley-exposes-truth-nh-413/
  • TV Report by Duane Pohlman, WKRC-TV 

Numnutz of the Week (for Outstanding Nuclear Boneheadedness):

Radioactive Ranger badges part of Historic Manhattan Project’s ongoing con job!

LInks:


Libbe HaLevy

00:00:01

Radioactive nuclear legacy waste. The Portsmouth gaseous diffusion plant in pike county, Ohio made enriched uranium to support the nation’s nuclear weapons program and create the fuel used by commercial nuclear reactors. It operated from 1954 until 2001, but even now today, 20 years after the facility last produced enriched uranium. The danger of radiation contamination continues, especially with the department of energy’s current efforts to tear down the half mile long buildings that housed the equipment, you’d think DOE would take every precaution to protect local residents from being exposed to radioactive materials released during the demolition process. But then you learn about recent tests of the surrounding communities and hear a highly credentialed researcher tell you

Dr. Michael Ketterer

00:00:58

Enriched uranium is something that I found basically from day one in the offsite environment. And there’s lots of examples of finding it and soils in the dust in zones corner school, in the dusts, in private individuals, residences offsite, it’s present in the water, draining the site. There’s a Creek called little beaver Creek, which goes into the CYO river. We found enriched uranium and sediments of the cyto river downstream of the facility. Well,

Libbe HaLevy

00:01:32

When someone who holds a PhD in analytical chemistry and who has worked for the U S environmental protection agencies, office of enforcement, Dr. Michael Ketterer tells you of radiological releases he’s found through not only his own research, but also DOE publicly available data. You realize that there’s probably a nuclear disaster lurking, no matter where you live and that we are each of us stuck in that awful seat that we all share

Announcer

00:02:06

Clear hot seat. What are those people thinking? Nuclear hot seat. What have those boys been breaking their hot seat? Ms. Sinking, our time to act is shrinking, but the visceral Hotsy, it’s a bomb.

Libbe HaLevy

00:02:37

Welcome to nuclear hot seat. The weekly international news magazine, keeping you up to date on all things nuclear from a different perspective. My name is Leiby Halevi. I am the producer and host as well as a survivor of the nuclear accident at three mile island from just one mile away. So I know what can happen when those nuclear so-called experts get it wrong. This week. A look at the latest findings in Piketon Ohio, where the department of energy is pushing through the demolition of the highly radioactive pike. Didn’t gaseous diffusion plant, much to the detriment and anger of the local community. We talk with Dr. Michael Ketterer, whose research broke the story of radioactive contaminants in the Piketon Ohio Xons corner, middle school three years ago. And he’s added again, analyzing and presenting data that shows radioactive materials have been released into the air and water of communities surrounding the Portsmouth gaseous diffusion plant.

Libbe HaLevy

00:03:44

It’s a chilling tale from a brilliant, deeply committed scientist. We will also have nuclear news from around the world numnuts of the week for outstanding nuclear bone headedness, and more honest nuclear information than anyone working on a COVID ward in Florida or Texas has the bandwidth to even consider all of it coming up in just a few moments. Today is Tuesday, August 10th, 2021. And here is this week’s nuclear news from a different perspective, starting here in the U S where Nevada governor Steve Sisolak announced on Tuesday, August 3rd, that president Joe Biden has promised to block shipping of nuclear waste to Yucca mountain. He quoted Biden is saying, I assure you as president, there will be no storage at Yucca mountain period. Every Nevada governor, since the first nuclear dump was first proposed has fought to prevent the federal government from moving high level waste to the mountain.

Libbe HaLevy

00:04:46

90 miles north of Las Vegas on treating land that has never been seeded by the Western Shoshone people. Sisolak said the latest agreement with federal officials also promised to remove plutonium that was illegally shipped to Nevada by the Trump administration in 2026. And to require 30 days notice before attempting another shipment. Governor Sisolak said, this is a monumental step forward in ensuring that the people of Nevada are protected from nuclear waste. However, that does not extend to the people of New Mexico or west Texas in an article that jumps the gun just a wee bit that appeared in power engineering, a pro-nuclear publication. It states that the U S nuclear regulatory commission staff is recommending granting a proposed license for a planned spent nuclear fuel, interim pay attention to that word, interim storage facility in west Texas. The NRC issued its final environmental impact statement on the application by interim storage partners, LLC.

Libbe HaLevy

00:05:55

And if granted the owners would a facility to store 5,000 in the beginning up to 44,000 tons of high level spent, you can put that word in quotes too, cause it’s not spent, it’s got plenty of radioactivity in it spent commercial nuclear fuel, and a small quantity of mixed oxide fuel for about 40 years. Here’s the problem with that? The word interim is based on the fact that there is a long-term facility for storage, that it will be shipped to. The assumption is that it’s Yucca mountain, but as you’ve just heard, according to this administration, Yucca mountain will never be used. So the basis for the moving forward of the so-called interim sites, both in west Texas and in New Mexico, is that they have someplace to ship it to and they do not. They are keeping the legal fiction of Yucca mountain alive and ask for them moving it.

Libbe HaLevy

00:06:55

After about 40 years, it is widely believed that the waste will be allowed to stay there for the full 100 years, that it is possible. And beyond that, who knows if we will have the will the money or the ability to take that waste and put it anywhere else. So it would be defacto, a long-term storage facility. This proposed so-called interim site would be in Andrews county, Texas, which is less than a mile from the New Mexico border, a mixed metaphor in Utah, where the bears ears, uranium mines are being seal, but new mining is planned. The good news is that dozens of abandoned mine shafts have been sealed and toxic materials removed. But meanwhile, in the spring of 2020, a plan of operations was filed for a new uranium mine in the original bears, ears, national monument on deer flat, and exactly the same area that is the subject of ongoing cleanup. The new mind calls for digging out a mind portal, constructing vent shafts, disturbing ground for a man camp, never a good idea and widening roads before gating. At least one of them to lock out the public from this area inside the original bears ears. Meanwhile, indigenous communities are unanimous in their demand that uranium be left in the ground would that those in power would listen. And now for your weekly dose of nuclear bone headedness

Libbe HaLevy

00:08:41

Hey, fun lovers action seekers, and kids of all ages want to earn a really cool junior ranger patch or badge. Then come on down to one of three Manhattan project, national historical parks, yes parks. That’s what they call them. Meaning Oak Ridge, Tennessee, home of the uranium enrichment plants, the liquid thermal diffusion plant and the pilot plutonium production reactor. This is where the uranium 2 35 for the bomb dropped on. Hiroshima came from then there’s Hanford Washington, and the beautiful Columbia river, where beginning in 1943, the site was used to produce plutonium for the bomb we dropped on Nagasaki. It’s now considered the most contaminated location in the Western hemisphere. And of course there’s Los Alamos in New Mexico, the top secret atomic weapons laboratory, where the first atomic bombs were designed and built lots of fun for the whole family. So heck why not visit all three?

Libbe HaLevy

00:09:49

All you have to do for your patch or badge boys and girls is go to the visitor center at any of these sites, pick up your junior ranger, booklet and tour the site while you’re there. Be careful not to inhale any radio active dust, fill in the answers and either hand it in at the visitor center or mail it to the Manhattan project, national historical park, and bam, you will get our really cool patch or badge. It’s much more exciting than a boring forest or a cookout with marshmallows. You’ll get to see nuclear waste experience our history of ecological and human disaster propagated on the world and received some propaganda that will neutralize any critical thinking by the younger generation. And that’s why Manhattan project national historical parks put that word in quotes and your sugarcoated history of planetary destruction. You are this week’s

Libbe HaLevy

01:10:57

By the way, those ranger booklets come in, English, Spanish and Japanese moving right along. And there’s a major article from the orange county register, OSI register.com entitled our sand erosion and rising seas. A concern for Santa, no phrase ocean front nuclear waste storage. The short answer to that is yes. And for a longer answer, you can click on the link that we will have on our website, nuclear hot seat.com under this episode, number 5 29, over to Japan, where that country was in possession of a total of some 46.1 metric, tons of plutonium at home and abroad as of the end of 2020, the most recent year for which we have information. This marks the first increase in three years of the amount of plutonium that Japan has. The plutonium is mixed with uranium to produce mixed oxide or Mox fuel for USAC nuclear power plants.

Libbe HaLevy

01:12:04

However, none of the nuclear plants in Japan used Mox fuel in 2020 in the wake of the triple nuclear meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi in 2011, only four reactors capable of using this Mox fuel have been reinstated. And there were no prospects of being able to activate other reactors or local body because of the resistance of local government bodies and residents giving the green light for such a move. So what is Japan doing with all that plutonium and in a final slap in the face by the international Olympic committee, they refused an international request for the Olympics to observe a moment of silence for a bomb victims on Friday, August 6th, the anniversary of the first of two nuclear bombs being dropped on Japan in Hiroshima. This is supposedly in line with the IOC policy, not to allow or facilitate political protests at the Olympics, which some athletes were challenging in the UK.

Libbe HaLevy

01:13:11

A coalition of deeply concerned Bristol channel researchers and campaigners has undertaken a pre dumped radioactivity survey because EDF, which wants to dump radioactive material into Bristol channel refuses to do it. The coalition representing interest from both Welsh and English communities along the Bristol channel appeal to the CEOs of the Marine management organization, the natural resources Wales and the Westminster and Welsh government ministers who oversee those two agencies to postpone any dumping decision until the survey results are published. The coalition has also formally requested a public inquiry to discuss the radiological issues. That’s right. Look before you leap. And this information came from Tim, dear Jones, a Marine radioactivity research and consultancy for the coalition August always brings such sad, horrible nuclear anniversaries, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and both of those were preceded by the Trinity atomic blast in New Mexico, which harmed and continues to harm people, living downwind from it.

Libbe HaLevy

01:14:23

That was the start of what we came to call the atomic age. And there is no end in sight, nuclear weapons, manufacturing, reactors, uranium mining, radioactive waste accidents. Permissible put that in quotes, radiation exposures, the list of nuclear dangers and disasters is as endless as plutonium, which remains dangerously radioactive for 240,000 years yet, despite the known this industry perpetuates itself, making obscene amounts of money while threatening the future of the planet and of life itself. That’s why nuclear hot seat is here to help, you know, and understand what’s going on in the nuclear world and what you can do about it. We cover not only what the industry is doing, but how brave activists around the world are fighting back and how any one of us. Yes. Even you can take action to try and stop this atomic madness at nuclear hot seat. We’re dedicated to giving you the nuclear stories you can’t find in mainstream media.

Libbe HaLevy

01:15:29

And we provide them with context and continuity so that you can understand the full ongoing picture, but in order to do our work, we need your help. That’s why the time would be right now to support us with a donation, just go to nuclear, hot seat.com. There’s a big red donate button. You can’t miss it, click on it and help us with a donation of any size. That same red button is where you can set up a monthly donation and even $5 a month. The same as a cup of coffee will help us keep going. Please do what you can now, please do what you can to support us now and know that whatever you can do, I am deeply grateful that you’re listening and that you care here’s this week’s featured interview. Nuclear hot seat has been covering radiation issues surrounding the demolition of the Portsmouth gaseous diffusion plant in Piketon Ohio, a manufacturing site for uranium 2 35 in 2019 radioactive neptunium, Emory Siham and uranium 2 35 were found inside and on the grounds of zones corner, middle school, that’s a story we covered for nuclear hot seat.

Libbe HaLevy

01:16:42

Number four, 13th of May, 22nd, 2019 central to that story. And more recent developments was based on the work of Dr. Michael Ketterer. And he is our guest today. Dr. Ketterer holds a PhD in analytical chemistry and has worked for the us environmental protection agency’s office of enforcement. He has taught at multiple universities and since 2000 has been conducting studies of plutonium in the environment he has published and lectured extensively on the subject and has analyzed samples from locations. Worldwide. Two of his current research interests are studying plutonium dioxide particles in soils near the former Rocky flats facility in Colorado and fingerprinting offsite contaminants near the former Portsmouth gaseous diffusion plant in Southern Ohio. Dr. Ketterer is currently professor emeritus of chemistry and biochemistry at Northern Arizona university. We spoke on Friday, August 6th, 2021, Dr. Michael Ketterer. So great to have you with us today on nuclear hot seat.

Dr. Michael Ketterer

01:17:55

My pleasure. Thank you, Libbe

Libbe HaLevy

01:17:57

Let’s start out with a little bit about you. What is your background and what has your training?

Dr. Michael Ketterer

01:18:04

Well, my background is in chemistry. I have a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a PhD in analytical chemistry. And I made my career in the area of environmental chemistry and specifically looking at tracing various contaminant elements in the environment, such as led and uranium and plutonium. And I’ve had experience working for USCPA in the office of enforcement and then an academic career at three different institutions. And now I’m a professor emeritus of chemistry and biochemistry at Northern Arizona university. And I’m continuing to do work in looking at sources of radionuclides near us nuclear sites. And there’s a variety of them that I’ve studied.

Libbe HaLevy

01:18:55

And you become involved with testing and monitoring the radiation levels from the Portsmouth gaseous diffusion plant.

Dr. Michael Ketterer

01:19:03

It’s an interesting story. I have a long familial connection to Ohio. My parents lived there for several decades and I actually lived in Ohio myself for five years, but in both cases, we were in the Northeastern part of the state and something that’s rather different about Ohio is there’s kind of a cultural and economic divide between the north of the state and those Southern counties around where Portsmouth is. And, you know, as a result of that, I, I felt until 2018 as I was wrapping up my father’s estate, that I had been familiar with Ohio for decades, but I really knew nothing about this Portsmouth gaseous diffusion plant. And so in September, 2018, I made a trip to Ohio and I decided to drive down to the vicinity of the Portsmouth plant. And I took some surreptitious samples and I had been reading about it. And I kept thinking, you know, this place is a mess and how is it that I’ve been coming to Ohio for decades and even lived there. And I really didn’t pay any attention to it. So I took some samples. I found most clearly that there was offsite contamination with radionuclides that were rather uniquely attributable to the Portsmouth plant. And then I took it from there. I started reaching out to community members and began collaborating with the community to collect samples and analyze them and try to interpret what we’re seeing in the offsite environment.

Libbe HaLevy

02:20:42

One thing I want you to make clear, who was it who asked you to do this work? Who hired you, who paid you? If anyone,

Dr. Michael Ketterer

02:20:51

I was the one that initiated this and the nobody really asked me to become involved. I did this voluntarily and I have not received any salary from anyone to date on this particular project. So everything that I’ve been doing is what you might say, pro bono or voluntary.

Libbe HaLevy

02:21:12

Your findings have been central to the story starting in 2019. That’s when the information surfaced that at the zone’s corner middle school, there was radioactive neptunium Emory cm and enriched uranium discovered inside the school or on the grounds. Were these the samples that you took surreptitiously and how did it play out as you made this information available to the public?

Dr. Michael Ketterer

02:21:42

The samples that I analyzed from Xeljanz corner, there’s two different sets. One was collected by a community member in late 2018, early 2019. And there’s another set that was collected by the us department of energy through Savannah river national laboratory. And I’ve analyzed both of those sets of samples in order to more or less look into the question about the enriched uranium. Are we able to find enriched uranium inside the school? I did not analyze any of DOE air filter samples from the monitors, for example, there’s this monitor a 41 a which the neptunium was detected in from 2017 samplings, and then DOE released that information in early 2019, and then the community, their level of concern rose quite a bit after learning there’s neptunium in the air outside of the school, but in my early studies, going back to September, 2018, no, I didn’t go in the school. I was taking samples from publicly accessible locations outside of the facility. And I have to make clear that all of the samples that I’ve analyzed are off plant site off us government property.

Libbe HaLevy

02:23:04

Is it possible that neptunium or these other radionuclides could exist? Shall we say wild in the environment? Or can they be traced specifically back to the Portsmouth gaseous diffusion plant

Dr. Michael Ketterer

02:23:19

Uranium occurs in nature and that’s to be expected. It’s a natural component of soils and rocks and water and so forth. The neptunium less. So there are some very, very narrow circumstances where neptunium has been found in nature in particular, very small quantities, a few atoms here and there, you might say in uranium or, but other than that, you know, neptunium is pretty much naturally occurring. Neptunium is to be expected from nuclear weapons testing during the 1950s and sixties, the U S and the former Soviet union. Did these open air open to the atmosphere, tests, skull, atmospheric tests, those released a lot of radionuclides into the atmosphere in particular, the stratosphere. So then there’s been this global deposition of those guys during the fifties and the sixties. So you can find neptunium anywhere in the environment at various, at very low concentrations, as a result of this nuclear weapons testing.

Dr. Michael Ketterer

02:24:25

However, there really isn’t any in the atmosphere of significance blowing around, so to speak. And so the finding of neptunium in an air monitor is a very, very unusual thing. What I’ve concentrated on in this work with respect to the Portsmouth facility is to try to distinguish the fingerprint or the signature of what we’re seeing in the environment versus what can be expected from nature. So kind of like the default hypothesis, the null hypothesis is that uranium that we find in the environment is from nature. And the way that we test that hypothesis is to measure its isotope composition or isotope ratio in particular, the ratio of 2 35 to 2 38 atoms. And that’s just a simple numeric ratio of the number of atoms of each kind. That value is quite constant in nature. It only deviates by a couple of parts per thousand. And if you see a higher abundance of uranium, two thirty five, we call that enriched uranium and enriched uranium is something that I found basically from day one in the offsite environment.

Dr. Michael Ketterer

02:25:45

And there’s lots of examples of finding it and soils in the dust in Psalms Karner school, in the dusts, in private individuals, residences offsite, it’s present in the water, draining the site. There’s a Creek called little beaver Creek, which goes into the CYO river. We found enriched uranium and sediments of the river downstream of the facility. I found it in air monitors, I’ve been analyzing with a community member, a series of biweekly air filters, enriched uranium is present nearly all the time and those filters. So we can so to speak, reject the null hypothesis and say, Hey, this is not explainable as nature. Now, similarly for the neptunium, there’s something else that you can do. And you’d say that if you find neptunium, we could take the null hypothesis as being well it’s from global fallout. It’s from this nuclear weapons tests, legacy stuff from the fifties and sixties, and what you can do then to evaluate that is measured. Neptunium 2 37 relative to plutonium, 2 39, again, a ratio of a number of atoms. And this is the work that I do in the laboratory with what’s called mass spectrometry. It’s basically counting numbers of atoms. Anyway, the relationship in this global fallout between neptunium 2 37 and plutonium 2 39 is relatively constant. The null hypothesis is upheld. If you find a neptunium 2 37 plutonium, 2 39 ratio, about 0.48, that’s been established by DOE zone studies, Pacific Northwest laboratories published that in 1999.

Libbe HaLevy

02:27:37

So that would be considered the normal ratio

Dr. Michael Ketterer

02:27:40

That would be considered the normal ratio. Exactly. So the default or no hypothesis, or the normal ratio of neptunium to 37 plutonium, 2 39 should be about 0.48. In contrast, what we’re seeing at Portsmouth is much different. There’s a lot more neptunium men could possibly be accounted for by global fallout. So without question, there’s, neptunium present in various offsite locations that comes from Portsmouth. I think most notably we saw in the sediments of it’s called little beaver Creek. It’s a small Creek, that’s draining a good part of the us government reservation. And it’s known that those sediments are contaminated. You know, we found the same thing, essentially, that department of energy has reported in their site evaluation reports.

Libbe HaLevy

02:28:39

When you came out with this information, what was the response in the community? And what was the response of DOE?

Dr. Michael Ketterer

02:28:46

It was April 27th, 2019, that this information was first publicized. So type county general health district had arranged a public meeting to discuss the neptunium 2 37 in the atmosphere. And we organized kind of like a presentation. I was out of state and sent them a PowerPoint. And then I presented via audio via telephone, I guess, in the pre zoom days. That’s how we did it. But I made a public presentation and released a report which showed a lot of this offsite contamination with the enriched uranium that Tuni and et cetera, and various places. And there was a kind of two different reactions, more or less outrage from the community, just sort of a reaction of lying to us. And we don’t believe anything. You have to say that sort of thing,

Libbe HaLevy

02:29:46

Meaning they were saying that to the DOE,

Dr. Michael Ketterer

02:29:48

Correct. And from the department of energy, there were two DOE representatives at the meeting, Greg Simonton and Jeremy Davis. And then there was a floor BWX T representative J D dowel at the meeting. My recollection is that Davis and dowel may basically false statements about where the neptunium was from.

Libbe HaLevy

03:30:14

What did they say?

Dr. Michael Ketterer

03:30:15

I’d have to go back and look at the transcript, but it’s to the effect that neptunium can be expected to be in global fallout. If it’s in the air monitors, it’s coming from soil that was previously contaminated with atmospheric testing debris from the fifties, and, you know, statements to that effect,

Libbe HaLevy

03:30:39

The wake of this revelation. What, if anything was done to clean up the problem or attempt to clean up the problem?

Dr. Michael Ketterer

03:30:49

To my knowledge, there hasn’t really been any attempt to clean up the problem in response to some of these findings, with the enriched uranium in the zone’s corner school, the local school district made the decision to close the school. And to my knowledge, it’s more or less there in undisturbed fashion. I don’t think that there’s been any cleanup done to my knowledge. Also, the department of energy is quite occupied with cleaning up. They have a term for it. That’s abbreviated D and D commissioning and something. Anyway, they’re occupied with the site itself, not the offsite environment. And so there’s nothing really being done offsite

Libbe HaLevy

03:31:35

There have just recently been new findings that have been central to the questions and concerns of local residents. And you are again, involved in this. Tell us about the more recent findings.

Dr. Michael Ketterer

03:31:48

There’s two sets of more recent findings that I’ve come out with. One of them is from DOE zone data in April, 2021. I sent a report to Matt Brewster. He’s the commissioner of the pike county general health district. And I’ve used dos data that are obtainable by anyone through their system called Pegasus. So there’s a government website. I went to the Pegasus website and I started looking at neptunium in water. And one of the findings was that the DOE data were showing that on the plant site, in the vicinity of a building former building called the X 7 0 1. So the sort of on the east edge of the site, there’s a plume of neptunium contamination in the groundwater, and also appears to be discharging into little beaver Creek. And then from there, it flows to the west towards the river, this contaminated areas upstream of where we had found the neptunium in the sediments.

Dr. Michael Ketterer

03:32:55

So I wrote a memo notify the general health district so they can inform the public that there’s this groundwater contamination issue. And I also said that it seems like the state of Ohio, Ohio EPA should said unenforceable standard for how much neptunium 2 37, it’s a hazardous substance under super fund. It’s a radio new glide. How much is allowable in water? And I’ll note that near Rocky flats in Colorado DOE has stipulated to a standard of 0.15 Pico curies per liter for plutonium and Amarie Siham. So I made the suggestion in this report to Matt Brewster, well, Ohio EPA needs to put in a standard. Why not a similar one here for neptunium what’s the issue? You know, do you have different standards for different states or, you know, are the people of Ohio somehow not good enough for environmental protection? So I made that point and finally, to cap that it’s part of the story. I had been given some documents that showed that the DOE and its predecessors going back to Goodyear atomic in 1976 and 1977, they knew that this particular area of the X 7 0 1 area was contaminated with neptunium. And so essentially the DOE has known about this problem for 45 years and

Libbe HaLevy

03:34:22

They let it go

Dr. Michael Ketterer

03:34:24

And they have not been forthcoming to the public for sure about what’s going on. And this is, you know, this is a bipartisan thing. Every administration Carter would have been president at that time, or maybe the end of the Ford era. Every administration going back to Eisenhower has kind of taken the same posture, this particular facility. So I pointed all that out. I had obtained a copy of the actual original Goodyear atomic correspondence from 1976 to 1977, that shows that Goodyear, atomic, who was DOE contractor to run the plant at that time, Goodyear atomic knew all about this neptunium contamination in this area and typewriter type text on paper,

Libbe HaLevy

03:35:16

The old fashioned way. So you said that this was part of one report that you submitted. What was the response of the Ohio officials that you sent this chip?

Dr. Michael Ketterer

03:35:29

I haven’t really heard anything from them effectively, no response. And I’ve brought this neptunium issue to attention of Ohio EPA also who should have statutory authority for setting environmental standards offsite. You know, I’d say that there’s been very little response. However, the DOE has not disputed. They’ve seen, of course my calling them out on the neptunium plume in the groundwater. They’ve not disputed it. I think that if I was saying something that was wrong in their eyes, they would have disputed it immediately. So that, that has not happened.

Libbe HaLevy

03:36:08

You mentioned that you had made a second set of discoveries or a second report. What was in that second set of information?

Dr. Michael Ketterer

03:36:21

I’ve been working the last two years with a community member if she wishes to keep a low profile, but this community member has been operating a high volume air monitors, similar to what DOE uses for their monitoring on her own residential property, as well as two townships cyto township and seal townships. So these are communities right in the periphery of the facility and these monitors collect aerosols. So they’re in the air and get them onto a piece of filter paper. And then I cut out sections and analyzed sections of those. So in may of this year, I released some reports that showed essentially a time series of what’s found in the air. And basically there’s enriched uranium found in the air all the time at all, monitors with the exception of what I’ll call the COVID hiatus,

Libbe HaLevy

03:37:18

Explain to us the COVID

Dr. Michael Ketterer

03:37:20

Hiatus. It appears that around the middle to end of March of 2020, right when the whole world was really, really getting concerned about the pandemic, the department of energy shut down, essentially halted or mothballed the, the cleanup operations at Portsmouth, then reinitiated in July of 2021. And I’ve found some documents from Ohio EPA and correspondence with Ohio EPA and DOE that confirms that timeframe pretty well. What, what we see in the air monitors is more or less the enriched uranium emissions disappear. And there’s a return to naturally occurring uranium in the atmosphere during those COVID months. So I call that the COVID hiatus, there’s a hiatus of air emissions from the D and D work. And then in late July, 2020, then the operations commenced again. And that’s when the enriched uranium returns in the air. And so we’ve seen this in what we now have is about a two year sequence of air filters.

Libbe HaLevy

03:38:36

There’s an old saying that correlation is not causation, and it’s compelling to see the correlation that you have come up with between the timing of the demolition shutdown, the COVID hiatus and the levels in the environment. Are you prepared to say that those are definitely linked with each other?

Dr. Michael Ketterer

03:38:56

Yes. For sure. Because if this goes well beyond correlation or just an anecdotal association, this is, this is causation. We’re looking at either the presence or absence of enriched uranium, which is identifiable by this isotope ratio, 2 35 and 2 38, which is quantitatively measurable. And there really isn’t any other explanation. I would like, you know, if the department of energy is going to say, well, this isn’t from us. Well, give us, please a alternative explanation that makes any sense.

Libbe HaLevy

03:39:35

And that has not been forthcoming as yet.

Dr. Michael Ketterer

03:39:38

They have not said anything like that. I think now the dialogue is shifting a little bit more towards, yes, we’ll admit that there’s offsite contamination of this and that nature. However, it’s not at levels that are hurting anybody.

Libbe HaLevy

03:39:53

That’s the one that makes me nuts because nobody understands about radiation. And the first thing that anyone says is either there’s no radiation, or if there is some, there’s no damage, there’s no harm to you. Don’t worry about it. They’re there. Missy, don’t worry. Your pretty little head about it.

Dr. Michael Ketterer

04:40:11

I’m not specifically an expert in the health effects of radiation or dose, or what are the anticipated risks of exposure to various levels of radio. Nuclides however, I would point out that just sort of in a general type of manner, this is sort of a textbook statement. I’ve taught general chemistry, umpteen times in any general chemistry book, there’s a chapter on nuclear chemistry. And it says, if this is an alpha emitting radio isotope, the way that that can hurt you is by ingesting it. So inhaling it or ingesting it, drinking it or eating it is the way that these radionuclides harm you. So there’s definitely a pathway for that exposure to occur. How much that’s not something that I can clarify about, but I’ll add one more thing. If I may,

Libbe HaLevy

04:41:07

Of course,

Dr. Michael Ketterer

04:41:08

There’s more to the story than these are the radio isotopes, and this is how they decay. And this is how that radioactive decay can hurt you. The other thing we really should consider is that these elements, these chemical elements are also chemical toxins. Uranium is chemically toxic, which is something independent of its properties as a radio radionuclides. So uranium chemically has been shown to bind to DNA and to cause strand breaks in DNA. And other words, it will have mutagenic effects. I’m not doing research in that area and I’m not really the right expert to talk about those papers, but I know of their existence. And, you know, I can read them peripherally and say, it looks like this is how DNA is going to be affected by uranium. So these additional elements like technetium, which we haven’t talked about, really the neptunium plutonium, those are all, they’re all chemical elements, and they’re going to have the potential to act as chemical toxins. There’s some concern that technetium, and there’s abundant. Technetium 99 and the proximity of Portsmouth technetium may interact with the human thyroid. There’s not a lot of, there’s not a thick file on the literature, on these things

Libbe HaLevy

04:42:32

With this new revelation of the COVID hiatus, as you call it has DOE resumed the demolition or the decontamination attempted decontamination of the site. And how has the community been responding to this set of information?

Dr. Michael Ketterer

04:42:56

Well, I haven’t really heard any feedback from an official representative of the community, such as the health district. And I’ve not heard any feedback from the DOE either about any of this. However, it looks like the decommissioning of the plant, the tear down is going at full speed. They are taking down at present. It’s my understanding the so-called X 3 26 building, which is one of the three gaseous diffusion plant buildings. These are enormous buildings, occupying acres and acres and acres. And in may of 2021, a community members shot a little roadside video showing the open air demolition of this X 3 26 building with a wind event where workers were attempting to cover what they were doing with a tarp. And the tarp was just flapping around like a kite in the wind. It’s clear that the DOE wants to push ahead with open air demolition. And that has not changed one bit since Jennifer Granholm became secretary of energy,

Libbe HaLevy

04:44:06

How far away have the radio nuclides been measured?

Dr. Michael Ketterer

04:44:11

That’s a good question. The DOE has a set of air monitors and they have one that’s 14 miles Southwest of the plant at a small community called Artway OTW a Y I believe, and there’s data on this Pegasus. I believe that P E G a S I S there’s data on this Pegasus for air monitoring results. And one of the things I also did was I looked at technetium 99 in the air and in 2015 and 2016, there’s an astounding, a set of results. And basically at this art way, you see the same concentrations of technetium 99 as you do right next to the plant. And what that’s saying is that there’s stuff being admitted probably as a gas. And so it’s diffusing throughout this whole lower CO2 valley. And it’s widespread. How far does it go? I don’t know, but it’s certainly making it 14 miles Southwest of the plant.

Dr. Michael Ketterer

04:45:20

The technetium 99 is another contaminant. That’s almost essentially a hundred percent synthetic. It could be associated with nuclear weapons testing fallout, but in this case, there’s a causal relationship between technetium 99 and the facility itself. So the tech 99 is from the Portsmouth plant. It is not from some other conjectured source. And so to answer your overall question, I think that these radionuclides are widespread. The truth is we really don’t know, because I think until I came along, there was not a lot of offsite data that the DOE published some in their annual site and environmental reports, Acer reports, but it’s kind of presented in a way to, you know, not really hit the nail on the head about what’s going on.

Libbe HaLevy

04:46:16

This is clearly an ongoing story. That’s not going to go away. What is your awareness of the media’s coverage of it and has that been consistent or do they pop up and then go away and wait for your next report?

Dr. Michael Ketterer

04:46:33

It comes in ebbs and flows and sort of pops up and goes away. There was certainly a lot of attention focused on Portsmouth in may of 2019 after the school district made the decision to close the plant. In fact, I found newspaper articles all over the world about that event. I found one in Spanish from Argentina. I found one in Portuguese from Portugal. I found one in German from Germany, South Africa, Poland, Canada, the U S all over, and then that coverage kind of waned. And there has not been a lot of attention focused on it since then. A bit more recently, investigative reporter Duane Pohlman of Cincinnati is channel 12 has broadcast a series of investigative stories, which I’ve been interviewed for, but there has not been continuous really intense media scrutiny of things happening there.

Libbe HaLevy

04:47:35

Moving forward. What is your intention in terms of ongoing involvement in this story?

Dr. Michael Ketterer

04:47:44

I am committed to continuing to assist the community members in an informal pro bono way. I think a lot more is needed. There is finally a little bit of attention from Washington, Ohio representative, Tim Ryan. Who’s a Democrat from one of the Northeastern Ohio districts has paid some attention to the facility and has on the record, asked secretary of energy grant home to pay some attention to it as well. There’s been a little bit of that happening. However, you know, the community needs a lot more. I think what the community really needs is the ability to produce their own information independent of the department of energy. I think at this particular site, with the nature of these contaminants, they’re not under control and the site, you know, there’s neptunium and enriched uranium offsite, and it’s appearing in the air. It’s not under control. The community needs perpetual environmental monitoring.

Dr. Michael Ketterer

04:48:49

We have to kind of characterize what’s there and what’s coming out on an ongoing basis to begin to understand it. I think that needs to be under community control. The DOE initiated what they called an independent third party study in 2019, which has been underway. And essentially the intent of that study is to demonstrate that there’s no significant radiological risk from the stuff that’s out there in the environment. You know, that’s not really what the community needs. And I don’t think that the community has a lot of faith or confidence in that. I think the community needs to sort of organize its own effort. Maybe through the county health district, you know, have a couple of employees and perhaps a testing laboratory. The types of testing I do at Northern Arizona university is something that could easily be set up in a community-based laboratory. They need to be able to produce and interpret their own information and act on it with entities like Ohio EPA, rather than, you know, asking DOE to tell them what’s happening. I think community control of environmental monitoring and oversight is essential. And I really welcome the opportunity to work with them, to assist them with getting that going.

Libbe HaLevy

05:50:14

Is there anything that we haven’t covered that you’d like to add at this point?

Dr. Michael Ketterer

05:50:18

There is a little bit of an opportunity for DOE to change their culture a bit here with new leadership coming in and the office had science. I think that there’s the opportunity to change how things are done a little bit. So these next couple months, these next few months are going to be critical as those new people come in and there’s new leadership in the office of science. I think that there’s the opportunity that people like me as well as the community can confront DOE and say, Hey, look, this is what you’ve been saying for 45 years. And this is how it really is. You know, there’s a disconnect here. Let’s talk about what’s really true. I see the fulcrum moving a little bit with respect to DOE and this particular site. But then on the other hand, you know, they are going as fast as they possibly can to tear down that X 3 26 building.

Dr. Michael Ketterer

05:51:16

And they really do not want to address the fact that there’s open air demolition is releasing all of this contaminated dust into the atmosphere. That’s probably the most serious concern that’s happening right now in real time. And they need to be confronted about that. You know, I’ve written some emails along those lines and I wrote, who knows if they read it, but I wrote secretary grin at home and I said, Jennifer, I called her Jennifer. You know, Jennifer, how the F would you like it? If this contaminated dust was wafting in the air outside of your lake house in Michigan, how would you like it? You know, this is what the community gets to live with due to your actions. You know, the, the new leadership, a DOE needs to understand that they are accountable for all of this stuff that’s being done right now on the ground with their contractors. And they can’t hide behind their $200,000 salaries and their genteel manners and clothes, and coming in to work with their Starbucks in hand, they can’t hide behind that. What they have going on in Portsmouth is no freaking chocolate factory. They need to recognize that and they need to bring truth and support to the community.

Libbe HaLevy

05:52:36

One final thought, would you be willing to live in that community?

Dr. Michael Ketterer

05:52:42

That question kind of puts me on the spot. I would say if I had a choice, the answer would be no. And I’ll give you a similar example. In 2013, I moved from Flagstaff to the Denver, Colorado area and my wife and I made the deliberate decision not to look for a place to live in the immediate proximity of the Rocky flats plant, because I knew about the plutonium contamination in the offsite soils there and the ongoing transport, a plutonium contaminated dust. I think that I would have similar concerns at Portsmouth. And, you know, if I had a choice, I would not choose to live there.

Libbe HaLevy

05:53:23

Dr. Michael Ketterer, you have brilliant and crucial work on your own motivation on behalf of the people in Piketon Ohio and in the surrounding area to the Portsmouth gaseous diffusion plant. You’re continuing to do so, which is so important. And we look forward to talking with you in the future about any new breakthroughs and new information that you find for now. Thank you for being my guest this week on nuclear hot seat. Thank

Dr. Michael Ketterer

05:53:55

You for interviewing me for nuclear.

Libbe HaLevy

05:53:57

Hotsy Dr. Michael Ketterer. We will have a link up to some of his work on our website, nuclear hot seat.com under this episode, number 5 29,

speaker 3

05:54:09

Activists

Libbe HaLevy

05:54:17

After Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The next set of atomic atrocities that were committed by the United States were against the people of the Marshall Islands were between 1946 and 1958. The U S exploded 67 nuclear bombs, not in war, but as tests, the full story of the mangle, like way that we behave towards the Marshalese people is as ugly. A chapter of American history as exists. One that the Marshalese are still suffering from. There is a website, atomic dot org. And it’s a place where you can go to read the history testimonials by survivors and descendants and learn how before the bikini was a bathing suit, there was an island, a toll that we destroyed with 23 separate bombings. It’s an important website telling an important story. And I encourage you to take a look and hats off in kudos to two of my favorite activists, Kevin Hester, and guy MacPherson, who continue to produce their podcast.

Libbe HaLevy

05:55:25

Nature bats. Last, the show deals with all aspects of the ever unfolding climate catastrophe, but this particular episode deals with nukes and includes the fabulous Mimi Gurman who lives in Oregon and joined them. Please take a look. They’ve got it up on YouTube, and we will link to it on the website, nuclear hot seat.com. Under this episode, number 5 29, this has been nuclear hot seat for Tuesday, August 10th, 2021 material for this week’s show has been researched and compiled from nuclear-news.net to own renard.wordpress.com beyond nuclear.com. The international campaign to abolish nuclear weapons, Nevada appeal.com, power dash E N g.com grand canyon trust.org, post register.com O C registered.com. My nietzsche.jp Basel, peace office.com and the totally captured and compromised by the industry. They’re supposed to be regulating nuclear regulatory commission. Thanks to all of you for listening with a big shout out to nuclear, hot seat listeners and followers around the world.

Libbe HaLevy

05:56:40

Now, if you’d like to make certain, you never miss a single episode of this show, you can get it delivered via email. Once a week. We don’t bug you. It’s just the one which will have the link and a short outline of some of the material that’s in that episode, it’s easy to do. Go to nuclear hot seat.com. Look for the yellow opt in box, put in your first name and email address. We’ll send it out to you. And if you have a story lead, a hot tip or a suggestion of someone to interview, send an email with that information to [email protected] Yes, it gets read and yes, it gets considered seriously. And a reminder that if you appreciate weekly verifiable news updates about nuclear issues around the world, take a moment to help us out, go to nuclear, hot seat.com and look for the big red button.

Libbe HaLevy

05:57:32

Anything you can do will help. And we really appreciate your support. This episode of nuclear Hotsy is copyright 2021 Leiby Halevi and hardest street communications, all rights reserved, but various allowed. As long as proper attribution is provided. This is Leiby Halevi of harvest street communications. The heart of the art of communicating, reminding you that minimizing the impact of nuclear radiation on our lives and health might make some people feel safe, but the lies don’t change scientific facts. They just keep you trapped within the danger of your own ignorance. There you go. You’ve just had your nuclear wake-up call. So please, whatever you do do not go back to sleep because we are all in the nuclear hot seat,

Announcer

05:58:24

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