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U.S. Agrees to Uranium Plant Cleanup in Ohio

Associated Press

The Department of Energy has agreed to a $1-billion cleanup of a uranium processing plant that has dumped thousands of pounds of radioactive waste into the environment, state and federal officials said Thursday.

Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio), state Atty. Gen. Anthony Celebrezze Jr. and state Environmental Protection Agency director Richard Shank declined to release details of the agreement on the Feed Materials Production Center in Fernald.

Formal announcement of the deal was scheduled today, the officials said.

Gov. Richard F. Celeste has said that he would not accept any agreement in which the federal government would not pay the complete cost of the Fernald cleanup, estimated at $1 billion.

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Steve Wyatt, a DOE spokesman in Oak Ridge, Tenn., said it was reasonable to assume that the government will pay for the work.

Joe La Grone, manager of Oak Ridge operations, said the agreement would be a consent decree subject to court approval.

The 37-year-old Fernald plant 18 miles northwest of Cincinnati processes and molds uranium for use in the Energy Department’s production of nuclear weapons. The state blames the DOE for contamination of air and water at the 1,050-acre plant, which sits above the Great Miami River aquifer, a water source for 2 million people. The Energy Department has admitted the plant has emitted at least 300,000 pounds of radioactive uranium dust into the atmosphere during three decades of operation.


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