PARKS TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — For the past 25 years, Patty Ameno has fought a one-woman battle to clean up tons of nuclear waste buried on a 44-acre site in Parks Township, Armstrong County.
But the waste is still there and Ameno is still fighting.
“I really resent the fact that I or anyone else — any other activist — has to take years out of their life to get the government to do their job,” Ameno said.
Dumped there in the ‘50s and ‘60s from a nuclear processing plant nearby, Ameno and others blame the waste for cancer and other deadly diseases.
A report released on Thursday said the federal government can’t say with any certainty just how much radioactive plutonium and weapons-grade uranium is present.
One former company scientist told investigators past estimates account for only five percent of the total.
“I think everyone going to be totally surprised at the amount of material that’s here. I think they will be jaw-dropped at the cavalier manner in which it was handled given that it’s the most dangerous substance known to man.”
The U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers halted clean-up operations two years ago when they discovered their contractor had cut corners and encountered large amounts of what they termed “complex material.”
Spokesman Dan Jones says the Corps is eager to resume the clean-up and addressed the concerns of those who live nearby.
“They want to have a great life like anyone else, and unfortunately, they live next to this site, but the Corps is doing its best to clean it up in a safe and timely manner and then turn it back to the community,” Jones said.
That means – hiring a new contractor this year, preparing the site next and resuming clean-up in 2016.
That phase that will take another 10 years – 2026.
That would be the earliest the site would be returned to its natural state, but after nearly a half century of fighting and waiting folks there say that would be okay as long as it gets done and gets done the right way.