Some 200 miles from the toxic train derailment site in East Palestine, Ohio, another environmental disaster still festers due to years of neglect by the U.S. government.
This other environmental disaster in Piketon, Ohio, the home of the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, also known as PORTS.
In the Cold War era, the U.S. government used PORTS to enrich uranium for nuclear bombs. Then, in the 1990s, the site was likely the recipient of polluted uranium from Russia in the 1990s due to a Bill Clinton-era program called “Swords to Ploughshares,” which entailed the United States converting Soviet Union nuclear warheads to uranium that could be used to power U.S. nuclear reactors.
Now, Piketon has a cancer problem—more than 500 cases per 100,000, or about 10% above state average, according to the Ohio Cancer Atlas.
Former PORTS worker Jeff Walburn told Headline USA that the disaster in Piketon could be worse than even what the people in East Palestine are dealing with.
“Here’s the difference: You saw wreckage of a train, you saw an explosion, you saw fire, and you see dead fish. Nuclear material is silent, invisible, and it’s a deadly killer. And the chemicals being transported outside of the plant to the community are just as deadly, but you’re not seeing the explosion or fire,” he said.
As someone who’s tried to hold the companies and federal agencies responsible for poisoning his community accountable for decades, Walburn also has advice for the residents of East Palestine.