LUCKEY – Cleanup of the old atomic energy plant in Luckey is moving too slowly and too secretly for some
who live near the old Motorwheel plant.
So local officials met last week to discuss how they would like the cleanup to be faster, more thorough,
and more transparent to the public.
The 40-acre site at 21200 Luckey Road was used in the early 1940s by the Atomic Energy Commission to
produce magnesium. Brush Beryllium Co. produced beryllium oxide, beryllium hydroxide and beryllium
pebbles. Later, in 1951 and 1952, the Atomic Energy Commission sent approximately 1,000 tons of
radioactively contaminated scrap metal to the site. And in 1959, the facility was closed, with material
from three lagoons there being placed in an on-site landfill.
Since then, the site has had several private business owners with a variety of industrial uses.
In 1974, the Atomic Energy Commission created a program, called the Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial
Action Program, to clean up sites that were part of the nation’s early atomic energy and weapons
The Luckey acreage is just one in a long line of sites to be cleaned up.
The known contaminants at the site include beryllium, lead, radium, thorium and uranium, according to
Brian Patterson, of the Ohio EPA.
"We know there’s stuff there," he said.
The Army Corps of Engineers is the lead agency involved in the cleanup, which is estimated to cost at
least $40 million. In the early stages of studying the site, the corps held frequent public meetings for
Luckey area residents concerned about their potentially toxic neighbor. But those meetings are no longer
being held, and the neighbors are getting nervous.
"It’s important to keep people informed," said Alice Davis, a former Luckey resident who is now
on the Wood County Board of Health. "Whatever is in there, we need to know the dangers."
Archie Lunsey, of the Ohio EPA, told officials gathered last week that he will stress to the corps the
need for better communication with the community.
"We’re looking at mechanisms to get you information on a routine basis," Lunsey said.
In addition to getting information from the corps, local residents and officials also have information
they would like to share.
For example, Troy Township Fiscal Officer Linda Biniker said the ineffective fencing around the site does
not keep children from exploring the property.
"If they’re in there, what are they carrying off?" she said, referring to the hazardous
chemicals on the site.
Troy Township Trustee Steve Levorchick said the crumbling buildings on site are likely contaminating the
air, yet air monitoring is done only when the corps is on the site working.
And Brad Espen, director of environmental services at the Wood County Health Department, voiced his
concern that the corps is cleaning up contaminated soil around the buildings, but not under the
But Lunsey explained that the corps will not address contaminants that won’t come in contact with people.
"As long as it’s there and you don’t dig it up, is should be OK," he said. "At the end of
the day, it’s about making sure that what’s there doesn’t create an unacceptable risk."
The corps $40 million clean up plan calls for contaminated soil to be excavated, then disposed of off
site. The groundwater will continue to be monitored.
The corps recently committed another $2 million for additional monitoring at the site, with sampling to
begin later this month and ending in January.
But when the actual cleanup will begin is still unknown. Corps officials have said before that the timing
will depend on when funding is available, and when cleanups are completed at more critical sites.
"The Army Corps never really wants to commit to a date of when they are going to start out
there," Patterson said. "The $40 million question is – when are they going to start?"