Cautious optimism at Piketon

By Frank Lewis - [email protected]

Officials at Fluor-BWXT are cautiously watching the FY 2018 budget to see how it will affect their call for the D&D project at Piketon to be fully funded.

“We’re waiting. We know they rolled out the president’s budget last week,” Jeff Wagner, public affairs and senior manager for Fluor BWXT, said. “We’re waiting to see more details about how that will translate at the site level, so we are waiting for that right now. We know the information is out there, but we are waiting to see it boil down to get to the site level and how that shapes up.”

The original funding formula went south when the two forms of funding, the sale of uranium on the open market and appropriations from Congress became entangled in a dual-disaster perfect storm. The bottom fell out of the uranium market and appropriations were cut for the Department of Energy.

“The only thing I heard from one of the employees up there, and it probably came from (D&D Project Director) Dennis Carr, they’re optimistic they’re going to get full funding,” Scioto County Commissioner Mike Crabtree said. “I haven’t gotten anything to confirm that, but at this point I think they’re optimistic.”

Crabtree referred to what he had heard as “second-hand information.”

“I’m hoping it’s a complete solution,” Crabtree said. “Every year we’ve had to send out letters and we’ve collected signatures at the fair and we’ve done a number of things to try to encourage the Department of Energy, but right now, from what I understand, they’re hopeful that it’s going to be full funded this year.”

Could we see an end to the CRs (continuing resolutions) and get a full budget?

“I hope so,” Crabtree said. “I’ve been involved with this for quite a while. I’ve done a lot of emails to the Department of Energy. I’ve done a lot of different things over the years and you don’t know what actually helped.”

Crabtree credited U.S. Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown and U.S. Representatives Brad Wenstrup and Bill Johnson with campaigning for the DOE to get behind the cleanup project and Congress to fund the work to prevent layoffs at the facility.

Would full funding be the answer as opposed to that system of uranium sales and appropriations?

“I think it would be better if they would just fully fund the project and any uranium sales would be in the form of a rebated back to the federal government,” Crabtree said. “That takes all the mystery out of it because then they know they’re fully funded and the government doesn’t know if they’re going to get a big check or little check, but whatever is sold, they’re going to get it back. To me that would be the only logical answer to make it happen.”

Crabtree said uranium has sold at from $150 all the way down to $50.

“Fully fund it and let the government get a rebate,” Crabtree said.

By Frank Lewis

[email protected]

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

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