PDT Staff Writer
The U.S. Congress is proposing to cut the original $300 million for the cleanup and reindustrialization of the U.S. Department of Energy site at Piketon to $233 million.
“We’re going to try to get them to go back to the $300 million, because the cuts bring that project almost to a stop,” Pike County Commissioner Blaine Beekman said. Beekman said the Commissioners can’t address the effect shutting down that project would have on jobs because they don’t know how Fluor B&W will handle the situation, but added that shutdown “seems almost inevitable.”
The Pike County Commissioners are headed for Washington, D.C., on June 19 with a joint resolution written in conjunction with Scioto, Jackson, and Ross counties in support of the Fluor Final Vision plan for cleanup and reindustrialization of the site.
“Like our colleagues, we appreciate the importance of preparing the site for reindustrialization that will provide jobs for our four-county area,” Pike County Commissioner Harry Rider said, quoting from the resolution. “In addition, the Pike County Commissioners, as the host county for the DOE site, are determined that the cleanup will be carried out in a safe, responsible manner, resulting in a secure, healthy environment for the Pike Countians who reside near the site.” Commissioner Teddy West said the Commissioners will see the project completed and that they will be able to assure residents of the safety of the area, adding that he lives adjacent to the facility in question.
West said the Commissioners will be meeting with the U.S. Department of Energy, Fluor B&W officials, Ohio’s two U.S. Senators, Democrat Sherrod Brown and Republican Rob Portman, as well as five members of the House of Representatives.
The purpose of the trip is to “obtain assurance that the cleanup will include the removal of existing onsite plumes and landfills which are nearing the end of their design life,” Rider said. “Not only will remediating the plumes and landfills make the future more secure for neighboring residents, it will also provide 1,100 acres for reindustrialization in the future.”
The Commissioners have a map of what that area will look like once the plumes are removed and the level of residual soil contamination reduced, showing at least 700 acres that would be available for industrial redevelopment.
In a letter to DOE Secretary Steven Chu, sent on May 30, the Commissioners wrote, “As you might well understand, supporting on-site disposal is not an easy or popular decision, but we recognize the economic realities the federal government faces and our need to share in the cleanup of the site that has benefited our counties for so many years. That being said, we request DOE to step forward and affirm its continued commitment to the four counties by supporting the consensus future vision for the site.”
The resolution ends with, “The Pike County Commissioners are also keenly aware of the necessity of assuring continuing Congressional appropriations to complete the cleanup. We will certainly be discussing that situation with everyone we meet with. With the highest unemployment rate in the state, we can definitely speak with expertise on the devastating effect the slowdown or denial of cleanup funds would have on Pike County as well as our three neighboring counties.”
The Commissioners will return from Washington on June 22.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.