Commissioners head to Washington

By Wayne Allen

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The Scioto County Commissioners boarded a plane Tuesday morning headed to Washington D.C. for a day-and-a-half of meetings and high expectations. The commissioners are traveling with a delegation of southern Ohio representatives, to lobby federal officials from continued financial support of Centrus Energy and Decontamination and Decommissioning (D&D) actives in Piketon.

DOE announced it will end the American Centrifuge Test Demonstration and Operation (ACTDO) activity at Piketon, potentially resulting in the layoffs of 200 Energy Corp. 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.

Fluor-BWXT has issued WARN notice to 500 D&D workers, because on an anticipated $80 million dollar budget shortfall.

Recently federal legislators passed a Continuing Resolution (CR), funding government operations until mid-December. The CR included funding for Centrus and D&D activities. Officials with both projects were waiting direction from DOE, before moving forward.

Scioto County Commissioner Bryan Davis said ACTDO and D&D are just two of several topics on the agenda to be discussed while in Washington. Davis said the delegation traveling to Washington Tuesday and Wednesday is only a portion of the local officials who have gone to Washington in an effort to lobby support for Piketon.

“We’ve got a real fight on our hands and we’re just going to have to keep pressing hard to get what rightfully ours as a community,” Davis said.

Among the scheduled meetings of the delegation include a meeting with the United States Department of Energy (DOE). Scioto County Commissioners Mike Crabtree and Doug Coleman expressed high expectations for the meeting with DOE.

On Friday Congressmen Bill Johnson and Brad Wenstrup visited Scioto County Friday afternoon to discuss the developing situation in Piketon. Wenstrup and Johnson believe ACP is a matter of national security.

“It’s interesting that as Iran is going to increase their centrifuges, we’re shutting ours down. They (DOE) are basing it on the premise that we have stockpiles (of enriched uranium), so we’re OK,” Wenstrup said. “We think it’s a very dangerous thing for our country and a bad signal to send out to the world.”

Johnson said DOE has expressed interest in moving forward with a plan for D&D in Piketon, which would involve no layoffs.

“There’s a lot of effort going on both Centrus and the D&D cleanup. We are a long way from waving the white flag,” Johnson said.

The Scioto County Commissioners said they would provide a report on what happened in Washington when they returned later this week.

Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT

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