Environment News Service

AmeriScan: December 1, 1999

ENERGY DEPARTMENT BEGINS INVESTIGATION AT PORTSMOUTH PLANT

PIKETON, Ohio, December 1, 1999 (ENS) - The DOE’s independent oversight team is beginning a comprehensive investigation of environment, safety and health activities at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon. The investigation is one of several steps announced by Energy Secretary Bill Richardson in response to concerns raised about worker safety and environmental contamination at a similar facility in Paducah, Kentucky. "I know that current and former workers at Portsmouth and their families have questions about past exposures and practices at the Portsmouth site and how these may have affected their health," said Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary for Environment, Safety and Health. "This investigation will help us answer those questions."

The team will be in Portsmouth from Tuesday through Thursday. This visit is the first of several the team will make to the Portsmouth plant over the next several months to obtain historical information on legacy hazards and protection of workers. "The team managers are here today to begin the investigation with an initial visit that will give us the information we'll need to more clearly define what we'll be doing," said David Stadler, senior manager of the DOE investigative team. "They will establish points of contact for the onsite investigation, obtain documents to support planning, tour facilities and grounds to select areas for investigation focus, conduct initial interviews with key DOE and contractor managers and union and US Enrichment Corporation officials, and meet with various stakeholders to discuss the investigation and listen to their concerns and input." A report on the Paducah investigation is available online at: http://tis.eh.doe.gov/portal. The team will also be conducting a similar investigation at the gaseous diffusion facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

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