Commissioners optimistic about ACP

At the Thursday meeting of the Scioto County Commissioners, Bryan Davis said he’s been in recent contact with Centrus Energy officials and remains hopeful the American Centrifuge Plant will stay open.

“The Centrus Energy had an all hands meeting yesterday with (Daniel) Poneman, (CEO of Centrus Energy). Poneman declared they are still working the issue,” Davis said.

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) announced it will end the American Centrifuge Test Demonstration and Operation (ACTDO) activity at Piketon, potentially resulting in the layoffs of 200 Energy Corp. employees. With a reduction of funding by the federal government, Centrus Energy Corp. announced their new reduced contract with Oak Ridge National Laboratory will not include continued operations of America’s only operating cascade of advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges in Piketon.

The Scioto County Commissioners have been advocates to keep ACP in Piketon. In 2015, the commissioners along with a delegation from southern Ohio, traveled to Washington D.C. to lobby law makers and officials on the importance of ACP and a number of other issues.

Davis said the situation is very fluid, but Centrus has not given any employees definitive departure dates, yet.

In late 2015, federal lawmakers approved a $1.1 Trillion Omnibus Budget Bill to fund government operations and programs. Included in the bill was $50 million to keep ACP running in Piketon.

Allocation of the funds provided in the spending bill would be up to DOE to allocate.

According to the Scioto County Commissioners, it does not look like DOE will allocate the funds.

When asked about the situation a DOE spokesperson said, “We will honor our obligations to ensure public safety is maintained and items of national security interest are properly protected.”

Davis along with Scioto County Commissioners Doug Coleman and Mike Crabtree said their main concerning is retaining the more than 200 jobs at ACP.

“There are a lot of people for this and we need to do something about it. When we were in D.C. they acted like they did not want to fund it and I want them to fund it,” Coleman said.

Crabtree said this ultimate fate of ACP in Piketon comes down to the DOE.

“It comes down to DOE and ultimately they are going to do what they are going to do. Unfortunately their decision is going to affect a lot of people. We’re hopeful DOE does the right things, but that remains to be seen,” Crabtree said.

The commissioners said they have not ruled out the possibility of making a return trip to Washington D.C.

“We’re hoping everything will work out and they (Centrus and DOE) will find a solution to this issue. At this point, we’re just waiting to see,” Davis said. “We’re hoping for the best outcome, which is to maintain operations as they are and to move this project forward.”

By Wayne Allen

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Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT