WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced that the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Environmental Management (EM) has awarded a $3.5 million grant to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) for increased oversight and monitoring of the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant Decontamination and Decommissioning Project in Portsmouth. This investment from DOE will increase grant funding for the project to $7.5 million, implementing new air monitoring strategies to support OEPA’s ongoing efforts to provide co-located monitoring and independent verification of DOE’s open-air demolition activities.
“The previous administration’s refusal to listen to the Piketon community, local officials, and health professionals eroded trust in the ongoing cleanup at the site,” said Brown. “I’m glad to see that the Biden-Harris administration is actively working to rebuild that trust through action and continued engagement with the community. The onus is on the Department of Energy – not the community – to ensure that work at the site is done safely. I’ll be monitoring the situation closely.”
Brown penned a letter last year to then- DOE Secretary Dan Brouillette urging him to respond to concerns expressed by the Piketon, Ohio community regarding the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant and radioactive material previously discovered at the Zahn’s Corner Middle School, just miles from the facility. DOE has denied that the neptunium discovered at the school and other private residences in the community is related to activities at the site. An independent third-party collection and assessment is currently ongoing.