WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH), along with U.S. Reps. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH-02), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-09),Tim Ryan (D-OH-13), Bill Johnson (R-OH-06), Bob Latta (R-OH-05), Jim Renacci (R-OH-16), Pat Tiberi (R-OH-12), Steve Stivers (R-OH015), Bob Gibbs (R-OH-07), David Joyce (R-OH-14), Michael Turner (R-OH-10), Steve Chabot (R-OH-01), and Jim Jordan (R-OH-14) today urged U.S. Energy Secretary Ernst 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 (D&D) 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 notices 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.
Full text of the letter is below:
The Honorable Ernest Moniz
U.S. Department of Energy
100 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20585
Dear Secretary Moniz:
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.
Our delegation has repeatedly urged DOE to present a comprehensive management plan for D&D of the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant. DOE has seemingly ignored those requests while continually failing to request adequate funding to maintain the Administration’s commitment to clean-up the site in preparation for reindustrialization.
Further, DOE’s September 11, 2015, announcement to end its contract with the American Centrifuge Project in Piketon as of September 30 was surprising and is yet another devastating blow for the community. It was unacceptable that the agency provided Congress with such short notice of this decision and before any member of Congress had an opportunity to see the congressionally-mandated report upon which much of this decision was based.
On September 30, 2015, Congress passed the Fiscal Year 2016 Continuing Resolution, a bill that will fund the government through December 11, 2015. The bill provides DOE the funding authority necessary to prevent layoffs on the D&D work and at the ACP. While DOE has recently indicated that no layoffs will occur at the D&D site through the CR, so far the Department has refused to commit to refrain from laying off employees at the ACP. We also expect DOE to refrain from demobilizing, destroying, transferring or otherwise terminating the enrichment demonstration project at ACP or any of the equipment associated with the demonstration for the duration of the fiscal year.
By December 2015, Congress will need to pass a bill which funds the government for the remainder of FY16. 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.