By Wayne Allen
Dennis Carr Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth site project director addressed the Scioto County Commissioners Thursday and gave an update on activities at the plant in Piketon. Carr told the commissioners of the current funding issues and said if layoffs do occur Scioto County would have the biggest impact.
Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth is a United States Department of Energy (DOE) contractor, performing Decontaminating and Decommissioning (D&D) of the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon. Carr said with an $80 million budget shortfall, as many as 500 workers may need to be let go to balance funding and workforce.
Over the course of the meeting Carr told the commissioners the majority of project workforce is from Scioto County. Carr said there are roughly 500 people from Scioto County working on the project. Pike County has roughly 300 workers at the site. Scenarios have been worked on based on funding and how many jobs may need to be cut, from the project. If a scenario of 500 jobs need to be cut, nearly 200 people from Scioto County would be affected, and roughly 100 affected from the Pike County.
“I would have to implement reductions the third week of October,” Carr said.
Carr acknowledged there is a continuing resolution begin worked on to fund federal government operations. The current legislation funding government operations is set expire at the end of September. Local and project officials are hopeful, language can be inserted into a continuing resolution providing additional funding and avoiding a workforce reduction.
“If I see something coming down the pike that might be hopeful, I’ll delay and at the same time I don’t want to make it worse,” Carr said.
Carr said he is keeping his eye on any additional funding that may come from Washington, but if does not see any funding coming this direction he will take the necessary action.
“We have our voluntary (separation) program under; we extended it through this week and have 40 volunteers. People that were in a position in their career where they are ready for retirement or have another job lined up,” Carr said. “It’s positive we got some volunteers, but we still have a long way to go.”
He said the projected number of people to be separated from their job is 500, with the voluntary separations lowering the overall number a little.
“We have an $80 million dollar problem and that’s going to involve a 500 person reduction,” Carr said.
An Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board meeting was held Thursday to talk about the site and other activities. A Facebook page, Keep PORTS Moving has been established to help the community be informed on local efforts to advocate for the site and the jobs it has created.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT