Reporting Mary Robb Jackson
APOLLO (KDKA) – There is a new study about what went on at two now-closed nuclear fuel plants in Armstrong County.
The study appears to back up what many people living there have been saying for years.
“I’m one of the lucky ones,” Patty Ameno said. “There’s been parents burying their children here.”
Ameno is a fighter. She’s had neurosurgery for one brain tumor and has another. She’s also survived uterine cancer.
She grew up within 100-feet of a plant operated by Babcock & Wilcox and Atlantic Richfield which produced uranium fuel in Apollo and Parks Township from 1958 to 1984.
Patty claims the onset of cancers here come at much younger ages like Stacia Bellefield who died of a malignant brain tumor before her third birthday.
“And the mother is now dead,” she said. “She had two different types of cancers.”
Patty was part of the first lawsuit against the companies and has made it her business to keep a litany of lost lives.
A new study from Harvard University’s Environmental Health and Safety Department looking at the alleged decades-long release of radioactive particles at the plants will booster a second lawsuit for 90 local cancer victims.
Among the findings was the Apollo plant’s “ventilation system was outdated and poorly designed” and “it should have never been located in a residential neighborhood.”
A fire at the plant in 1963 “exposed lungs to radiation doses 2 to 280 times permissible levels allowed back then.”
And “during incineration operations airborne radiation concentrations were 4 to 4,000 times the maximum allowable.
Apollo Borough Manager Lori Weig-Tamasy says this kind of expert study is hugely reinforcing.
“Something did go on in this community that was at the expense of the people that live here,” she says, “and fortunately this is now validating it.”
The Apollo Babcock & Wilcox plant has been erased from the landscape, but there are people in surrounding communities who contend there’s still plenty of contamination in the water, soil and from waste dumps.
On May 2nd, another report is due out tracking the health impacts from radiation exposure.