By Wayne Allen
The Scioto County Commissioners said Thursday they are still headed to Washington D.C. in light of the news of Decontamination and Decommissioning (D&D) activities in Piketon may have a funding source to avoid layoffs.
Language was included to fund D&D in a Continuing Resolution being constructed to fund government operations until Dec. 11. Scioto County Commissioner Doug Coleman is hopeful the trip to Washington D.C. will result in a long-term funding commitment for D&D and the entire United States Department of Energy (DOE) reservation in Piketon.
“It’s very positive if they are able to get the $80 million, which gets us through December. It does not change our plans, because of what’s been going on for years,” said Bryan Davis, Scioto County Commissioner. “The employees, our friends and neighbors can’t continue to live their lives like this, wondering if they are going to have a paycheck down the road.”
Davis said the current situation makes it hard for employees to plan anything because of the uncertainty of their jobs.
“This (continuing resolution funding) is a band-aid, for something that should be fully funded for years to come,” Davis said.
Coleman said having funding until Dec. 11 makes it bad for families to plan for Christmas.
“I’m going there (Washington) with an attitude. If I get thrown in jail, they (commissioners) better help me get out,” Coleman said. “They need to come out and say we’re going to fund it (D&D), end of the line.”
DOE announced it will end the American Centrifuge Test Demonstration and Operation (ACTDO) activity at Piketon, potentially resulting in the layoffs of 200 employees. With a reduction in funding by the federal government, Centrus Energy Corp. announced their new reduced contract with Oak Ridge National Laboratory will not include continued operations of America’s only operating cascade of advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges in Piketon.
“If DOE is bent on doing this (ending ACTDO), and it seems like they are. We need to have a plan in place to take care of the employees, but also what can be done on a transitional basis,” Davis said.
Davis was wondering what will happen to the ACTDO facilities in Piketon.
“You can’t just close the door and say you’re done. You don’t want to throw up the white flag, but as the same time you have to be planning. If we can’t keep Centrus alive, what can we do to save jobs,” Davis said.
Davis said the ACTDO and D&D are just two of several topics on the agenda to be discussed while in Washington.
“Fluor-BWXT’s contract is up next year, the DUF6 contract is up next year. Now is the time to be talking about these things, not what it happens and something changes and we’re in a crisis and reactive mode. We need to be proactive and talk about these things now,” Davis said. “We need to make sure DOE is going to be a reliable partner with us and the community.”
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT