Ohio delegation calls for Piketon funding in 2017 budget

By Frank Lewis

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The entire Ohio delegation including U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman and U.S Representatives Brad Wenstrup and Bill Johnson, have sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, telling him – “For the third year in a row, workers in Piketon, Ohio, are awaiting word on whether or not they will have jobs throughout the current fiscal year. As you know, over 700 workers have received notice from Department of Energy (DOE) contractors that their positions could be eliminated in the coming months, including 500 employed on the Decontamination and Decommissioning (D&D) work at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant and 236 employed at the American Centrifuge Plant (ACP). Congress recently assured funding for both projects through the Continuing Resolution (CR) and we write today to clarify that we expect your agency to utilize the funding provided by Congress to maintain fiscal year 2015 (FY15) employment levels at the Piketon site.”

The Senators and Congressmen are calling for a long-term solution beyond the current Continuing Resolution. The delegation urged Moniz to maintain employment levels at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant using funding provided by Congress and to include adequate funding for Piketon’s decontamination & decommissioning operations in the Administration’s fiscal year 2017 budget request.

In their letter, the lawmakers said, “Our delegation is committed to ensuring that Piketon is adequately provided for in the spending package and we would like to work with you and your staff to ensure this happens. But, just as importantly, it is incumbent upon DOE to include adequate funding in the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Request that will maintain current employment levels on the D&D work. We look forward to working with you to avoid proposed layoffs at the site and to accelerate redevelopment in Piketon.”

Workers at Piketon – both in its D&D operations and at the American Centrifuge Plant – have received WARN noticed that their jobs were in jeopardy. Congress passed a short-term funding bill in September that ensures that D&D operations at the plant will continue through Dec. 11. Earlier this month, Secretary Moniz indicated that no layoffs would occur within Piketon’s D&D operations through Dec. 11.

When reached by the Daily Times, Fluor BWXT officials declined to comment on the latest action.

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