The most visible product of the outreach is a published summary of the annual site environmental report (ASER) prepared by the Waverly High School students and distributed to stakeholders. Ohio University administers the program under a grant provided by EM.
Program Analyst Greg Simonton of EM’s Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office (PPPO) said the project rotates each year among Pike County’s four public high schools and has been well received by educators and students alike.
“The student ASER project is part of our broader educational outreach program and has involved hundreds of students over seven years,” Simonton said. “The students who go through this program become some of the most educated stakeholders on the Portsmouth project.”
Ohio University’s Daniel Kloepfer said the recent site visit was key to this year’s program because it gave the students a firsthand look at the material addressed in the ASER.
“In the ASER, they will see building numbers on paper, but here it’s nice for them to see the buildings firsthand. Now they can envision what the work is,” Kloepfer said.
This year’s group is an advanced-placement biology class of 20 seniors and juniors taught by Waverly’s Daniel Sand.
“I had to make sure this project would be meaningful for our students and align with our advanced curriculum requirements,” Sand said. “This tour was a fantastic experience to see the plant from the inside-out. It gave them a visual for what they are doing, especially parts related to groundwater.”
The tour began with a briefing on site history and infrastructure followed by visits to the X-300 Plant Control Facility, X-622 Groundwater Pump-and-Treat Facility, and X-735A Maintenance Building, where they received an overview of the On-Site Waste Disposal Facility under construction.
Simonton said the ASER summary project also shows the students some of the career fields at the site and gives them an idea of the scientific disciplines they might be interested in pursuing.
“This was a great opportunity to educate myself on the history of the site and learn about environmental aspects of what goes on here,” said Tyler Smith, a 17-year-old Waverly senior.
The students will complete their work by the end of the school year. PPPO similarly conducts an ASER summary at its Paducah Site in cooperation with the University of Kentucky.