By Frank Lewis
Hoping to bring some top-of-mind awareness to the PORTS D&D project at Piketon, and avoid the loss of 500 jobs, the Pike County Commissioners have sent letters to Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Shaun Donovan of the Office of Management and Budget in Washington, DC.
The letter to Moniz says “The Boards of County Commissioners for Pike, Scioto, Jackson and Ross counties and the two labor unions representing the workers at the site write to you to express our concern for the funding situation for the PORTS D&D project at Piketon. We were extremely disappointed in the Department of Energy for failing to once again provide adequate funding for the project to avoid interruptions with progress and significant employee layoffs.”
The letter says the DOE’s request in the president’s 2016 budget fell $55 million short and when coupled with that department’s recent secretarial determination on barter the project is now facing an $80 million deficit which will result in a job loss of 500 full-time employees.
“This is unacceptable,” the correspondence reads. “By continuing to shortchange the project, the Department of Energy has repeatedly neglected its responsibility to clean up the former Gaseous Diffusion Plant in a timely fashion. Our community has supported the government’s mission at the plant for over 60 years and deserves to have the site cleaned up and prepared for redevelopment.”
In their letter to Donovan, the commissioners said – “We write to you today expressing our strong support for the PORTS D&D project in Piketon, Ohio. After pleading with the Department of Energy to fund the project at a level that keeps the project moving forward and prevents layoffs, our pleas continue to fall on deaf ears.”
The correspondence says all of the communities which have citizens who work at the plant urge support for the project.
“Our community strongly supports the PORTS D&D project and has repeatedly voiced our concerns regarding the inadequate funding for the site to Secretary Moniz and President Obama. These constant threats of project delay and workforce reductions cause serious distractions to our workforce which has an adverse effect on safety, productivity and employee morale.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.