Portsmouth Environmental Monitoring

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Welcome to the homepage for the Portsmouth Environmental Monitoring program. 

This webpage will provide timely, ongoing communication to the public regarding the Department of Energy’s (DOE) program to detect and eliminate environmental hazards at or near the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant.

In addition to being a source for ongoing education and resource materials on such topics as sampling methodology, key terminology, radiation sources and protective measures, this page will be a launching point for us to share with you the results of these data in a timely and user-friendly manner. DOE is committed to working with the community and the state to ensure the safety and health of our workforce, our neighboring communities and the environment.

Robert Edwards

Manager, Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office

A technician with PPPO's Portsmouth Environmental Monitoring Program prepares an environmental media sample for analysis.
A technician enters environmental media data into report records as part of DOE's Portsmouth Environmental Monitoring program.

Monitoring and Reporting

DOE works hard to ensure communities near our facilities maintain safe and healthy environments. To do this, the Department has implemented a robust monitoring program that meets or exceeds state and national regulatory standards. At Portsmouth, DOE has installed and maintains an extensive monitoring program that samples for radiological and chemical contaminants in air, water, soil, sediment, and biota (animals, vegetation, crops) on and near the plant site. Each year, over 11,000 environmental monitoring data are collected, reviewed, and reported. The results of these monitoring efforts are reported in the Annual Site Environmental Report (ASER). The ASER is prepared each year for the public.

The ASER is a comprehensive summary of environmental activities and monitoring data from DOE’s Portsmouth Site. Current and past copies of the ASER are available to the public at:

DOE Environmental Information Center
1864 Shyville Road, Piketon, Ohio
https://eic.ports.pppo.gov
(740) 289-8898

Current and past electronic copies are also available online at:

https://www.energy.gov/pppo/downloads/portsmouth-annual-site-environmental-reports

The Annual Site Environmental Report (ASER) is prepared annually for the public.

Special Monitoring

Zahn's Corner Middle School

Located approximately 2.5 miles northeast of the Portsmouth Site, air monitors located adjacent to Zahn’s Corner Middle School detected very low levels of airborne neptunium in 2017 and americium nearby in 2018.

A technician checks air-monitoring equipment at the Portsmouth Site.

A separate report by Dr. Michael Ketterer of Northern Arizona University claimed the presence of enriched uranium within the school. The Scioto Valley Local School District Board elected to close the school on May 13, 2019. 

In response to community concerns, DOE deployed an elite team of certified health physicists from DOE’s National Laboratories and the National Nuclear Security Administration to conduct the investigation at Zahn’s Corner Middle School, accompanied by representatives of the Ohio Department of Health and interested members of the Piketon community. The team of radiation safety experts collected 44 surface samples over the Memorial Day weekend, including specific areas requested by the community to be tested. Air samples also were collected from both inside and outside the school.
 
Results from sample analyses conducted by experts at Savannah River National Laboratory show no radioactivity detected above naturally occurring levels, and no cause for public health concern. There is no public health or safety risk from radioactive material preventing Zahn’s Corner Middle School from opening this fall. The Department at each step conducted its investigation in a thorough and transparent process. Its experts, who conduct radiological investigations around the world, employed proven industry standards in gathering and analyzing the samples. DOE is committed to the safety, health and protection of its workforce, the general public and the environment at all of its sites.

Additionally, the Department has committed to fund an independent third-party assessment for the Pike County community to include additional sampling and analysis in a scientifically sound and disciplined manner to address community concerns.

For further information, please follow the updated links below.

Community Information Sessions

The Department of Energy hosted two community meetings in early August to present details on the sampling and analysis methods and results and answer questions regarding the Zahn's Corner Middle School sampling event.

A DOE contractor discusses the Portsmouth On-Site Waste Disposal Facility with local residents during a community Open House event.

Those interested in receiving additional information may sign up below to receive periodic updates.

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