PDT Staff Writer
Governor Ted Strickland will be in Piketon Thursday to make a major announcement concerning a project that will result in the future development of property at the current Department of Energy’s site in Pike County.
The move comes on the heels of an article in a national online publication that says Piketon will be the site of a nuclear power plant. At press time, the Columbus Dispatch had also carried a similar report on their Web site.
“The Governor is looking forward to having an announcement in Piketon on Thursday, and will offer some positive news about the future of the site,” Strickland spokeswoman Amanda Wurst told the Portsmouth Daily Times Tuesday.
“The Governor has long advocated for the redevelopment of the former nuclear facility at Piketon, both as a member of Congress and as Governor.”
A media advisory from USEC Tuesday said, “Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, U.S. Senator George Voinovich, and U.S. Representative Jean Schmidt will join CEOs from several national and international energy companies as they make a major announcement about the future use of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Piketon site. The announcement will highlight a large-scale effort to transition a portion of the site into a 21st century clean energy production center.”
Bruce Pfaff of Congresswoman Jean Schmidt’s office says Schmidt is behind the project for a lot of reasons.
“She has always been a supporter of trying to bring jobs to the region, and she feels this will be an important addition and job creator for the area as well as important to the energy needs of the area,” Pfaff said.
Online publication Weapons Complex Monitor recently carried a story with a headline that reads “Duke, AREVA and USEC to build new nuke plant at Portsmouth” and says the project is to be the work of those three entities.
In the article’s opening statement, Rebecca Cooper writes:
“Duke Power Corporation, French-owned nuclear reactor vendor AREVA and USEC Inc. are poised to announce plans for a new nuclear power plant at the Department of Energy’s Portsmouth site in Piketon, Ohio on June 18, WC Monitor has learned.”
The article says the site is home to USEC’s former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, as well as the future location for the company’s planned American Centrifuge Uranium Enrichment Plant.
“The Department of Energy, which is cleaning up environmental liabilities at the site, will soon have an operating nuclear facility at the site as well when the depleted uranium hexafluoride conversion plant comes online in 2010,” Cooper writes.
The article says the proposed plant marks the first new nuclear plant in Ohio, and says it would be one of a larger fleet of AREVA’s Evolutionary Power Reactors (EPRs) planned for the United States.
“AREVA is hoping to break ground on the first U.S. EPR at Calvert Cliffs in Maryland by the end of this year,” Cooper writes.
Pfaff was asked if Schmidt feels nuclear energy is a safe, viable source of power.
“Where it can be done safely, and where it is needed, especially in a place such as Ohio which is so reliant on coal and natural gas, it’s a good addition to that mix,” Pfaff said. “Especially if the Democrats are going to be pushing Greenhouse Gas emmission cap and trade issues.”
Pfaff cited two members of congress he says are in opposition to nuclear usage.
“Congressman (Henry) Waxman of California, and Congressman (Edward) Markey (of Massachussetts) intentionally have not put nuclear power on the table. It has been proven to be very safe when done appropriately and properly, that it can be a safe and clean source of energy. She (Schmidt) certainly believes that, where appropriate, it should be in the mix as an alternative.”
Pfaff said the U.S. is still, “on the all-of-the-above...but today we have to go with what we’ve got — coal, natural gas, oil, and nuclear.”
The involvement of the French company AREVA goes back to last year, when, in an exclusive interview in the Feb. 23, 2008, edition of the Portsmouth Daily Times, Strickland said his office had been vying with several other states for a $2 billion uranium enrichment plant he (Strickland) would like to see built in Piketon.
“AREVA is the largest producer of nuclear power in France,” Strickland said at the time. “I think about 80 percent of France’s electricity comes from nuclear power, so it’s a huge company.”
However, within months, AREVA announced they would pass up Piketon and build the facility near Idaho Falls, Idaho, after winning tax concessions from the Idaho state legislature.
That did not keep Strickland from working to see a facility built on that property.
The publication says the project will not be a lone project by AREVA, but is to be created by their partnership with Duke Energy and USEC Inc.
Elizabeth Stuckle, director of corporate communications with USEC was asked by the Times if the location of a nuclear plant at Piketon occurred, would it have any effect on the Centrifuge project already under consideration. Stuckle said Tuesday she could not confirm the “rumor” about the announcement on Thursday, but said it would have no effect on the other project if it did occur.
“If such a situation were to exist, it would have no effect,” Stuckle said. “But I cannot confirm.”
Stuckle then repeated her response to the hypothetical question.
“If such a situation were to transpire, the two projects would not interfere with each other,” Stuckle said.
On its Web site, AREVA is also talking about another project in the works.
According to AREVA, they are also in partnership with Korean contractor, Daelim Industrial Co. Ltd., and have been awarded a contract by Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co., Ltd., South Korean nuclear power plants operator to replace the six steam generators on the Ulchin 1 & 2 Nuclear Power Plants during outages planned for 2011 and 2012.
Duke Energy was named one of Corporate Responsibility Officer (CRO) magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens in March of this year.
“The Governor is looking forward to being in Piketon on Thursday,” Wurst said.
FRANK LEWIS may be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232.