Ohio Environmental Protection Agency
Environmental Protection Agency officials say 20,000 gallons of crude spilled from a damaged pipeline into a nature reserve in southwest Ohio.

Pipeline Leak Spotlights Threats to the Archaeoecology of the Ohio Valley

Geoffrey Sea

It took 20 years to raze and bury the remains of the Fernald plant, piling the demolition debris along with radioactive waste into a gigantic U-shaped earth-covered mound that is referred to facetiously as “the Hot Dog.” Jason Krupar, a history professor at the University of Cincinnati, has written about how much the modern nuclear mounds at Fernald and other such sites resemble metastasized versions of the ancient Adena mounds, and how future archaeologists might dig into one, expecting to find American Indian artifacts, only to encounter radioactive waste. The Fernald site is now referred to as “a park and preserve.”

Midvalley Pipeline break in relation to prehistoric earthworks and the Fernald site. (Map by Jeff Craig of Craig Cartography)

Ohio was the only state to house four separate facilities of the national nuclear fuels and weapons complex, each one of them built in proximity to an ancient Indian earthwork. Aside from Fernald, the other three federal former nuclear installations in Ohio—at Piketon, Miamisburg, and Ashtabula—also sit adjacent to large Adena mounds or earthwork complexes.

It’s almost as if the Adena prophesied that certain sites would become centers of apocalyptic ecological insult.

Geoffrey Sea is a writer and historian and director of Adena Core, a heritage preservation organization in the Ohio Valley. Check out Adena Core's Facebook page here.


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