WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) has announced that the final FY 2018 appropriations bill includes an increase in $30 million over last year for the cleanup of the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon. This additional funding is needed to maintain current employment levels for the decontamination and decommissioning work at the Portsmouth Plant as the Department of Energy suspends its barter program for the remainder of FY 2018. Portman received a commitment from Secretary of Energy Rick Perry on Tuesday that he would not suspend the Department of Energy’s uranium barter program – which is used to partially fund the cleanup – unless this additional funding was provided in the appropriations bill.
“The cleanup and redevelopment of this plant is critical for jobs, economic development and the future of Southern Ohio, and I’m pleased to announce this funding today,” Portman said. “The barter program has resulted in funding uncertainty for the cleanup of the Piketon site, and is not a long-term solution. I’m committed to ensuring there are sufficient resources for the cleanup work at Portsmouth, and am pleased that Secretary Perry is committed to supporting long-term, stable funding for Piketon. I want to thank Secretary Perry for keeping his commitments thus far, including visiting the site with me last fall, committing to its cleanup and reconsidering the Obama administration’s decision to end the domestic uranium enrichment demonstration program. I will continue to work with my colleagues and the administration to secure the funding necessary to get the site cleaned up and ready for redevelopment.”
Portman has consistently worked to secure funding needed to maintain current employment levels for the decontamination and decommissioning work at the plant. On Feb. 23, Portman visited the plant and met with key stakeholders — including Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Ohio EPA, Southern Ohio Diversification Initiative (SODI), Site Specific Advisory Board (SSAB), and local and state elected officials — to discuss the future of cleanup activities at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant. During the meeting, Portman announced that he had secured a commitment from DOE to clean up the existing landfills and plumes at the plant. Under questioning from Portman this week, Perry, who toured the site with Portman last year, said that he is re-evaluating the Obama administration’s decision to end the domestic uranium enrichment demonstration program because having domestic enrichment capabilities would provide stability and security to our country. The demonstration program – known as the American Centrifuge Plant – operated at Piketon until it was disbanded by the Obama administration.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has worked with Portman to keep jobs at the plant and maintain ongoing cleanup efforts in previous spending bills. The funding announced this week is part of the omnibus spending package Congress is expected to pass by the end of this week.
“So many workers in Piketon have given their entire careers to this plant, both to advance national security and ready the site for new investment. We owe them the funding certainty they need to finish the job,” Brown said. “It’s good news this funding will keep workers on the job so they can support their families. I’ll continue to work with the community and Senator Portman to ensure that cleanup remains a priority.”