Army Corps: Harshaw nuke site in Cleveland not 'imminent threat'

11:16 AM, Jan 21, 2010   |    comments
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The Corps has been testing the former Harshaw Chemical Company site periodically for nearly 10 years, and formally released its report at a public meeting held Wednesday evening at the Cleveland Metroparks' Canalway Center in Cuyahoga Heights.

"Based on the site's current use, there is no imminent threat to human health or the environment," Project Manager Duane Lenhardt said, in a statement released by the Army Corps of Engineers.

"However, over a lifetime, with 25 or 30 years daily exposure on the site, there are potential human health risks," the report stated. The Corps' next step will be to develop a clean-up plan for the Harshaw site, which is on Harvard Avenue, just East of Interstate 77.

The site's history came to light in 2000 and included reports by USA Today and WKYC-TV, detailing the plant's participation in atomic weapons programs.

Families of now-deceased employees have said workers were never told of the dangers of working with radioactive substances.

"I began to wonder how much damage did it do, to not only the guys who worked in the plant, but the guys who worked around the plant and in the neighborhood?" Eugene Bremer, Jr., of Cleveland, told WKYC in 2000.

His father died an "agonizing death" at the age of 52, according to the family, after working 24 years inside the plant.

Over the years, the Corps has encouraged former employees and their families to contact them with any information that would be shed light on what actually went on inside Harshaw, so an effective re-mediation plan could be fashioned.

Work on the atomic bomb programs ceased at Harshaw in 1959. Several buildings still stand on the site. Areas that could have been potential threats have been sealed off and warning signs were posted.

At a public meeting Wednesday night at the Cleveland Metropark's CanalWay Center in Cuyahoga Heights, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Environmental Toxicologist, Karen Kiel said, "team members were monitoring their own worker exposure as they were doing the investigation and they never got a detectable reading while they were there."

Keil added, "That's good news. And the investigating team was there for almost six months or so."





Project leader, Duane Lenhardt said, "the next phase will be a study to determine the best way to dispose of any contaminated materials and soil. That could take two years."


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