WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) continued his push to preserve operations and jobs at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon. Today, Brown wrote to U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget Shaun Donovan urging that the Department of Energy’s fiscal year (FY) 2017 budget include $460 million to fully fund ongoing decontamination and decommissioning (D&D) efforts at Piketon.
“Because of the commitment from Congress and the Administration, there are more than 2,000 good-paying jobs at the site. Yet, due to budgetary shortfalls, over the past two years more than 1,000 WARN notices have been issued at the site,” said Brown. “While a commitment from the DOE and Congress has resulted in the shortfall being eliminated and the jobs being saved, this process has been unfair to workers, the community, and the families that depend on these jobs.”
In the letter, Brown also voiced his support for the Site Specific Advisory Board’s (SSAB) recommendations for the disposal cell.
Workers at Piketon – both in its decontamination and decommissioning 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. Last month, Secretary Moniz indicated that no layoffs would occur within Piketon’s D&D operations through Dec. 11. Brown led the Ohio delegation in a letter to Moniz urging him to maintain employment at the plant using the funding provided by Congress.
November 9, 2015
Hon. Shaun Donovan, Director
Hon. Ernest Moniz, Secretary
Dear Director Donovan and Secretary Moniz:
As the Administration finalizes the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget request, I ask that you continue your commitment to Environmental Management Programming for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon, Ohio. I request that the DOE’s budget request include $460 million in funds in order to fully fund ongoing cleanup at the site.
The Administration’s commitment to an accelerated site cleanup, ensures that our nation maintains its commitment to the people of Southeastern Ohio who for more than 50 years have supported critical enrichment activities. Continued cleanup at the site is critical to the economy of Southern Ohio, a region still recovering from the recent economic downturn. These funds will help put people back to work cleaning up the site, reclaiming the site, and setting the stage for future redevelopment and reuse.
Because of the commitment from Congress and the Administration, there are more than 2,000 good-paying jobs at the site. Yet, due to budgetary shortfalls, over the past two years more than 1,000 WARN notices have been issued at the site. While a commitment from the DOE and Congress has resulted in the shortfall being eliminated and the jobs being saved, this process has been unfair to workers, the community, and the families that depend on these jobs.
I am concerned that despite undeniable progress at the site, the DOE continues to rely on uranium disposition to fund some cleanup activities and lacks a clear plan for maintaining the current workforce and the pace of site cleanup once the uranium runs out. Given the significant reliance DOE has placed on uranium disposition to fund cleanup activities, I believe DOE must develop a sustainable, long-term plan for cleanup work. Having a clear funding path – that does not rely upon uranium disposition – in the years ahead is essential to ensure that Portsmouth’s cleanup timelines are met.
As work will soon begin on an onsite disposal cell for demolition materials, it is critical that funds for the disposal cell do not come at the expense of funding for the ongoing deconstruction and decontamination work at the site. Further, it is imperative that we continue this progress by ensuring that the construction of and eventual disposal of materials in the cell is consistent with the recommendations made by the Site Specific Advisory Board.
I look forward to working with you and Secretary Moniz as we work to protect the environment and boost economic development and job creation in Southern Ohio.
United States Senator