Piketon funding included in Senate bill

Employees at the Department of Energy reservation at Piketon have been keeping one eye on their Christmas plans and the other on Washington to see if that much-needed funding is going to be forthcoming to keep the two main projects alive.

On Tuesday, the Senate took at least a tentative step in the positive direction by including funding for Piketon in the proposed Fiscal Year 2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill being considered.

That’s the word that came from U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) who said the Senate bill includes the funding needed to maintain current employment levels for the decontamination and decommissioning (D&D) work at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant and to maintain operation of the American Centrifuge Plant (ACP) in Piketon.

“I’m pleased that we were able to secure funding for the cleanup work at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant and the uranium enrichment work being done at the American Centrifuge Project in Piketon, Ohio,” Portman said. “These projects are critically important not only to the southern Ohio economy, but also our national security. It is now up to the Department of Energy to fully utilize these funds and avoid layoffs on these two important projects.”

While the powers that be are attempting to garner complete funding of the D& D project, and getting away from the funding that was from both appropriations and the open market sale of enriched uranium. Last year the bottom fell out of the uranium sales market.

Meanwhile, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz stopped the testing of the cascades at the ACP project, saying he believed the information from the spinning of the machines had basically reached diminishing returns status.

Recently, following the urging of Portman, Moniz authorized the DOE to provide resources to avoid involuntary layoffs for D&D activities at Piketon through the remainder of the year.

By Frank Lewis

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Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.