Saturday, August 28, 1999

Ex-worker alleges test coverup

The Associated Press

        MARION, Ohio — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers discouraged investigators from finding radiation at a school complex during soil tests last summer, a former employee said.

        Jed Ball, who said he was part of the team taking samples at River Valley schools, made the complaints in an e-mail to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

        “We were told by the Army Corps (representative) and the primary contractor that, quote, "You will not find anything,' meaning for everyone to look the other way,” he wrote in e-mail obtained by WCMH-TV and WSYX-TV in Columbus.

        In an interview with the Marion Star for a story today, he said, “I'm not saying there was a lot of contamination, but we wouldn't have found anything if there had been any there.”

        Mr. Ball said he sent the note earlier to the federal EPA, which told him to forward it to state officials. Mr. Ball said he forgot to send the e-mail until Tuesday “due to family needs.”

        The mail went to Carol Hester, a spokeswoman for the EPA. She turned it over to the state Health Department.

        Mari-jean Siehl, a spokeswoman for the Health Department, said the agency asked the Corps for an investigation and the Corps agreed.

        The Health Department and EPA stand by earlier results that found only one radiation problem — a dime-sized reflector for marking bridges. The disc has been removed.


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