A misinformed position

Mayor Billy Spencer - Village of Piketon

Dear editor,

Scioto County Commissioner Crabtree is misinformed with respect to the Village of Piketon’s long held position on the cleanup and redevelopment plan for the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PORTS) and the need for a third party independent assessment. He should also know that the Village of Piketon is not alone in its interest in having a third party assessment completed. We have been joined by Seal Township, Scioto Valley Local School District and the Pike County Career Technology Center who all have passed resolutions in support of the third party assessment.

The Village opposed DOE’s Proposed Plan in 2014 to construct a low-level nuclear waste and hazardous waste landfill at the Plant. We opposed the Plan because we didn’t believe then and we don’t believe today that re-industrialization of PORTS is realistic in our lifetime and quite frankly having this landfill in our backyard is not a motivator for anyone to invest in our community.

The Village of Piketon supports redevelopment of the A plant, but unless there is a live project that will break ground in the next 60 days, there is no urgency to transfer this land before addressing our concerns. DOE believes that the A plant should be repurposed for industrial uses based on the fact that they can’t cleanup the site to residential or even commercial standards. Yet, study after study has clearly shown that the manufacturing industry has literally collapsed in our area. A study recently completed by a consultant the Village retained has documented a 83% drop in manufacturing jobs since DOE announced the D&D of the gaseous diffusion plant in 2001, and now the more recent announcement of the closing of the American Centrifuge Plant will reduce that number further. In 2001, manufacturing in Pike County was the largest industry by employment with 5,544 jobs. In 2015, manufacturing accounted for only 937 jobs or, a loss of 4,607 positions.

Our position is based on data and facts. How can anyone have confidence that DOE’s plan to sell off land parcels will somehow bring prosperity to Piketon or the region? The facts don’t line up. The economic development experts and site selection consultants all agree – private companies minimize their risks when picking sites and do not locate their businesses next to nuclear waste. Yet, there are those like Commissioner Crabtree who believe that there would probably be a number of industries interested in

the site once D&D is completed. Perhaps the good Commissioner will share with us all his alternative facts that back up his pipe dream.

DOE’s NEPA Environmental Assessment Report calls for sale of PORTS land for industrial use. This is not a realistic solution for these reasons:

  • It will not mitigate the socio-economic impact to the Village of Piketon;
  • The community will have no redevelopment opportunities for decades;
  • DOE is using the land best suited for immediate redevelopment opportunities as a nuclear waste dump;
  • The current timeline and sequencing for cleanup and groundwater remediation does not make land available for gainful private reuse in this generation. In addition, DOE plans to remove important infrastructure as part of the site cleanup but not rebuild the infrastructure; and
  • Without a firm commitment from DOE to excavate the landfills and contaminated groundwater plumes, successful private redevelopment inside Perimeter Road is also highly unlikely.

As it stands, the Village of Piketon will be burdened with the risks of a permanent nuclear and hazardous waste landfill that will drive down our property values and cripple our ability to grow. We are the ones who have been adversely impacted both fiscally and socio-economically from the operations at PORTS. DOE’s decision will move radioactive and hazardous waste from the buildings and bury it at a location that is as close to the community as you can get, and on the best property available for reindustrialization. I suggest Commissioner Crabtree stop showboating and make another trip to Piketon so he can personally visit the residents, businesses, and schools whose property values will be negatively impacted and permanently scarred by this nuclear landfill and tell them why his personal interests are more important than theirs. And while he is at it, Commissioner Crabtree should publicly apologize for his vicious attack on one of our Village’s most trusted and respected members of Council.

As the closest incorporated community to the Plant we have been negatively impacted much more from its operations than surrounding areas. In 2015, the Village recorded 37.5% of residents living in poverty which was much higher than all of Pike County. We have borne the brunt of being the host Village to DOE’s operations for many years, but unfortunately have yet to benefit from all the money provided to surrounding counties by the Fluor BWXT economic development funds. Perhaps that is why Commissioner Crabtree has a personal interest in building a nuclear waste landfill in Piketon.

We are proud to have supported our country’s efforts to protect and defend against nuclear adversaries by having the A plant, but it is time to clean it up and leave the host community with an asset instead of the permanent liability of a nuclear waste landfill. Now, we ask for DOE and our neighbors to recognize our sacrifices and support a realistic plan for repurposing the facility.



Mayor Billy Spencer

Village of Piketon