Piketon Plant’s Cleanup Funds Added To Bill

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Funding for the decontamination and decommissioning (D&D) project at the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant at Piketon has been included in the draft 2015 fiscal year omnibus legislation issued by the U.S. Congress, it was announced on Wednesday.

The continuing resolution currently funding the project is set to run out on Thursday, December 11, and could result in massive layoffs at the site if the project is not funded.

Dennis Carr, site project director for D&D contractor Fluor-B&W Portsmouth LLC, sent a message to employees on Wednesday morning, stating that the draft federal omnibus funding bill issued by Congress on Tuesday night shows a potential increase of $78 million of additional operating funds for the D&D project, bringing project funding to near Fiscal Year 2014 levels.

"It does reduce our requested capital funds by $23.5 million for the Onsite Disposal Facility," Carr's message states in-part. "With these reduced capital funds for the disposal facility we would focus on completing the design and conducting site clearing if the Record of Decision selects this option.

"I caution everyone that the bill has not been voted on by the House or Senate, or signed by the President. It is a good sign, however, that Congress has heard our voices and those of our many supporters to place a priority on providing the project with most of the funds needed to continue our important mission without major impact."

Carr stated that he will be engaging with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) over the next several days on the workscope and workforce implications should the draft language be enacted in the near future.

"Clearly, should the bill be enacted, any required workforce restructuring action will be  significantly reduced or stopped in its entirety and we will proceed with a refocusing of our resources on our project workscope priorities," Carr said.

"Continued bipartisan work in Congress is keeping the Piketon D&D cleanup on track without major disruption," stated Congressman Brad Wenstrup on Wednesday (R-OH-2nd District). "I’ve carried my conversations with local officials and community stakeholders over recent months directly to Congressional leadership to secure this funding … This site has incredible potential for future redevelopment, and I will continue to lead efforts for a fully funded and timely cleanup process.

”According to the office of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), the $78 million in additional funding for the project woud bring up total Fiscal Year 2015 federal appropriations for cleanup activities in Piketon to $209 million.
“We know that cleanup of the Piketon site supports approximately 1,900 jobs,” Brown said. “Ensuring adequate funds for cleanup and redevelopment is critical to these jobs and so many other future jobs in Southern Ohio This bill will ensure that workers remain on the job as they redevelop the site for future use.

“This is good news for the Piketon region and the 1,900 Ohio workers employed on the cleanup of the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, and I am glad that Congress was able to provide more funding than the Administration requested, eliminating any chance of layoffs in the near-term.

“I will continue to work with the Ohio congressional delegation, the Department of Energy, and the site contractor for the remainder of the year to resolve any workscope or funding issues that need to be addressed to ensure stable employment levels. But it is important that next year the Administration prioritizes the Piketon cleanup and sends Congress a funding request that supports the current workforce level and maintains the commitment to finish the cleanup by 2024.”