PIKE COUNTY, Ohio - An Ohio middle school has been closed after enriched uranium was discovered inside.
"Even the last couple of hours have been very hectic," Scioto Valley Local Schools Superintendent Todd Burkitt told WLWT.
It's a problem few, if any, school leaders have had to handle before: enriched uranium levels detected inside a middle school and Neptunium in an air monitor just outside. Both are radioactive with possible chronic risks, cancer being the biggest one.
"There's just not a playbook in how we deal with this. We're kinda writing the script as we go," said Burkitt.
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Zahn's Corner Middle School is closed for the rest of the school year, starting Tuesday, an early summer break for its 320 students. School leaders don't know if or when students will ever return.
Pike County health officials told WLWT the radioactive materials are stored in your bones and are released slowly over time, meaning children of current and former students and staff could also be at risk. School leaders want more tests done to determine the extent of the contamination and the source.
Many here are pointing to the Portsmouth Plant just a couple miles down the road. It produced enriched uranium from 1954 to 2001 and is now in cleanup mode.
Jennifer Chandler is on the village of Piketon Council, she said they were caught completely unprepared and it's very personal for her. "I attended this school from kindergarten to sixth grade and so did my husband. And all three of my children attended this school, so it is scary to think about," said Chandler.
Chandler said homes and bodies of water also tested positive for contamination, including the Scioto River. "We, at this point, don't know how far the contamination has reached. That will be part of the ongoing investigation," said Chandler.