CINCINNATI — Miami University investigators have found a variety of genetic deformities and abnormal growth patterns in plants and animals around the Fernald uranium plant.
A copy of the investigators' report, written under contract to the Westinghouse Materials Co. of Ohio, the plant's operator, was obtained by the Cincinnati Enquirer. The newspaper reported that investigators examined more than 85,000 organisms collected from around Fernald in the summers of 1986 and 1987.
Westinghouse sent the report to a Department of Energy laboratory for review.
In a Nov. 21 letter to Westinghouse, the department criticized the report for drawing conclusions without experimental data to support them, ignoring natural environmental stress and drawing heavily on previous studies.
Investigators did not specifically blame radiation or pollution at Fernald for the abnormalities, but problems cited included:
--Significantly fewer species of underwater organisms in Paddy's Run downstream of its confluence with a Fernald drainage ditch, compared to upstream, and genetic differences in fish and invertebrates along the same stretch.
--Between 32% and 43% fewer plant species than in comparable areas away from the plant.
--Low birth rates and slowed growth in birds.
--Disproportionately high numbers of some small mammals, accompanied by a complete absence of other, common ones.