If President Trump’s budget passes as is, the cleanup and building of the disposal cell at Piketon will be fully funded. Late Tuesday afternoon, U.S. Senator Rob Portman notified the Daily Times that the proposed Trump budget contains $351 million, which Portman understands is enough to “fully fund the cleanup and building of the disposal cell.”
Within minutes, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown announced that President Trump’s budget will increase funding for the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, but vowed to work to ensure that no layoffs occur due to the Administration’s decision to reduce the uranium barter.
“Increased funding for the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant is good for Piketon workers and the community who face uncertainty each year about whether cleanup can continue,” Brown said. “Today’s budget is good news for jobs at the plant, but I’m still worried that the White House’s decision to reduce the uranium barter will hurt Piketon workers and the surrounding communities. I’ll keep working with Senator Portman, the plant, and the community to make sure cleanup continues so we can attract future investment to southern Ohio.”
The Times contacted Bryan Davis, chairman of the Scioto County Commissioners, for a comment. Davis said he had not been informed of the dollars in the Trump budget.
“I would have to share his (Brown) opinion about the barter program as a whole, but if it offsets that, and it sounds like it does, we should be thrilled to know that, and it should give the employees on the D&D project with Fluor and everybody else, all the subcontractors reason to rejoice,” Davis said. “It gives them stability in their jobs, which is something our friends and neighbors need up there.” Davis said, while it’s good news concerning the funding, he would like to see the project accelerated.
Perry recently announced a reduction in the amount of uranium that can be sold on the market. The project is financed partially by uranium sales and partially by appropriations, and when it was announced, Fluor-BWXT spokesman Jeff Wagner told the Times the amount of uranium his company now has available to barter has dropped from 1,600 metric tons uranium (MTU) per year down to 1,200 MTU per year. Barter accounts for about 30 percent of the annual budget with congressional appropriations making up the balance. At the current spot market price 400 MTU represents approximately $24 million to the project and to the site.
Brown has joined with many other officials in southern Ohio to invite Secretary of Energy Rick Perry to visit the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant.
The Times attempted to reach officials at Fluor-BWXT for a comment Tuesday afternoon but were unable to do so.
Reach Frank Lewis 2740-353-3101, ext 1928, or on Twitter @flewisPDT.