WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today praised the expected creation of 800-1000 jobs in the Scioto Valley through new funds that will accelerate cleanup efforts at the Piketon Uranium Enrichment Plant in Portsmouth. Brown said these funds, along with the Department of Energy’s (DOE) willingness to work with USEC on the American Centrifuge Plant, will promote long-term economic development and immediate job creation.
“Today’s announcement shows the Obama Administration’s commitment to the Scioto Valley,” Brown said. “This means immediate job creation through accelerated cleanup efforts and enhanced research and development to support the work at the Centrifuge Plant.”
Brown has been a long-time champion of accelerating the cleanup process at Piketon. He successfully fought to shorten the timeframe for cleanup, moving the due date up from 2044 to 2020. In March, he announced that the plant will receive $118 million in cleanup funds through the economic recovery package, after leading a bipartisan group of eight U.S. senators in calling for the economic recovery legislation to include a significant investment in DOE nuclear cleanup sites. Piketon’s allocation of $118 million is expected to create 120 jobs in the region, while today’s announcement (an investment worth around $150-200 million per year over the next four years) is expected to create 800-1000 new jobs in addition to the recovery package and the official cleanup process.
“For too long, the Piketon community was overlooked by previous administrations in Washington,” Brown continued. “The Department of Energy’s willingness to work with USEC on technical issues is a positive step. The new cleanup funds for Piketon, coupled with the $118 million I fought for through the economic recovery package, will create hundreds of jobs for years to come. Accelerated cleanup will ensure the Piketon community has the right infrastructure to attract long-term economic development.”
On Jan. 15, 2009, Brown led a bipartisan group of eight U.S. Senators in calling for $6 billion in the economic recovery package to be dedicated to the cleanup of existing DOE nuclear sites. A copy of the letter can be found here. In October 2007, he first introduced legislation to continue the cleanup of Piketon by extending the authority of the Uranium Enrichment Decommissioning and Decontamination (D & D) Fund at the DOE.
The final version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) included the $6 billion in new funding for which Brown successfully advocated. Projects in 12 states will receive funds. In Portsmouth, the $118 million in economic recovery funds will be used to demolish unused facilities and cleanup 19 acres of contaminated soils. The funds will also prevent further groundwater contamination by removing the source of the highest contaminant concentration.
Today’s announcement will create an additional 800-1000 new cleanup jobs on top of those created by the economic recovery package. The administration will also work with USEC over the next 12-18 months to test the initial centrifuges at the site so USEC is better positioned to secure approval for a DOE loan guarantee in the future. Earlier this month, Brown wrote Energy Secretary Steven Chu to highlight the importance of the loan guarantee to USEC. A copy of Brown’s letter can be found here.
In 1989 DOE created the Environmental Management program to reduce the threats to health, safety, and the environment posed by contamination and waste at DOE weapons complex facilities across the country. These sites, located in New York, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, Idaho, and Washington represent the environmental legacy from the production of nuclear weapons over the course of several decades and account for the vast majority of this nation’s environmental liabilities. The DOE has characterized the cleanup of its sites as the largest environmental cleanup program in the world.