Commissioners send letter to Perry

By Frank Lewis -

During last week’s Scioto County Commissioners meeting, Fluor-BWXT Site Project Director Dennis Carr took the occasion to thank the commissioners for joining with commissioners from Pike, Ross, and Jackson counties, in sending a letter to newly confirmed Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, calling for funding for the D&D project at Piketon.

The letter tells Perry the plant has played a major role in the production of highly enriched uranium for the nation’s national security and the nuclear Navy program.

“For our community it has been the key economic driver since the early 1950s,” The letter said. “Many of our residents and local businesses rely heavily on strong employment at the site.”

The letter says the commissioners fully support the future vision plan for the site including the on-site waste disposal facility and sets the site on a path that encourages reindustrialization so the area can attract new business.

The opposite view of the on-site waste disposal facility is expressed by Piketon Mayor Billy Spencer in a separate letter to Perry.

“Unfortunately, the commissioners are wrong regarding one very important issue, which is the construction of a nuclear waste dump on the site that will be in our home forever. It should come as no surprise that the four county commissioner group are in support of this approach since they are the beneficiaries of financial support from the project’s contractor, which desires to build the dump, and do not have the lion’s share of the risk as we do here in Piketon,” Spencer said. “Secretary Perry, the surrounding counties supporting on-site disposal would be like the environmental lobby speaking for you on the issue of climate change. I suspect that since you are the one who will be held accountable to those policies that it might be you who decides what those policies will be and that it is easy for others to speak on your behalf when they are not the ones who will face the music.”

In their letter to Perry, the commissioners said the PORTS project gains its funding through federal appropriations and the barter and sale of government owned uranium inventories on the open market.

Although this barter has supplied up to 75 percent of the project’s funding, it has been plagued with unpredictable swings in the market price sending the community and local businesses into turmoil with threats of massive layoffs year after year,” the commissioners said. “Only through last minute efforts of the community to lobby the Ohio Congressional delegation and the department we have avoided these layoffs. This is no way to run a project.”

The letter was signed by all 12 of the county commissioners.

The Daily Times asked Carr about the importance of Perry responding to an invitation and coming to tour the Piketon site.

“I think we’ll give him a good show here,” Carr said. “I think we’ve got a pretty compelling proposition and business case for him to accelerate our project and save the country dollars in turning the property back to the local community for industrialization. I think it’s going to be pretty unique. I don’t think he’s (Perry) going to get that same proposition at any of the other Department of Energy sites.”

By Frank Lewis

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

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