Department of Energy Testing Begins at Pike County Middle School

Posted on:

< < Back to
A Department of Energy air quality monitor sits atop a school chair on the playground of Zahn’s Corner Middle School on Saturday, May 25, 2019. Testing comes after the Scioto Valley School District closed the building eight days early because various radioactive contaminants, including enriched uranium, were detected in and around the school. The DOE went forward with its own testing because the Department felt Pike County officials were taking too long to name the vendor of the previously scheduled independent testing of the school, according to a spokesperson. (Jordan Kelley/WOUB)

PIKETON, Ohio (WOUB) — The U.S. Department of Energy tested for radioactive materials at Zahn’s Corner Middle School on Saturday morning.

“It was important for the secretary to send the team in to do an assessment of the school and offer the resources that we can,” said Department of Energy Press Secretary Shaylyn Hynes.

The testing comes after community-lead testing discovered traces of enriched uranium inside the school.

DOE sampling was scheduled to begin on Friday but was delayed after the DOE initially didn’t provide Pike County Health officials with basic information about the testing, including the study objectives, detection metrics and methods used.

“I’m not sure why there is a delay in producing these items or the mad rush to sample the school,” Pike County Health Commissioner Matt Brewster wrote in an email. “The students at Zahn’s Corner Middle School will be housed at the elementary and high school for the 2019-20 school year — along with the fact that the independent third party study is getting closer to being finalized and starting.”

DOE said it decided to move forward with it’s own testing due to the delay in finalizing plans for the independent third party study.

“There had not been any resolution to selecting a third party yet,” Hynes said. “I understand that has been a little bit of a slower process, cause there’s some challenges with funding and whatnot. In the meantime we wanted to, in addition, offer our support, and the resources that we have just to do our own assessment.”

The expedited study comes after DOE Secretary Rick Perry encouraged the residents of Piketon to, “quickly identify an expert company or individual to conduct this study so that testing can be done before the upcoming school year.” in a letter to Governor Mike DeWine on Tuesday.

“We are aware of the time sensitive nature of this project and are taking the necessary steps to ensure that the contractor selected has the necessary experience and will be unbiased.” said Brewster in a statement late Tuesday night.

Representatives from the Ohio Department of Health, Pike County Public Health District, Scioto Valley Local School District and other members of the community observed the sampling on Saturday. The Ohio Department of Health and the Pike County Public Health District both received portions of the samples collected.