By Frank Lewis
Congressman Brad Wenstrup (OH-2) introduced an amendment Wednesday to increase Decontamination and Decommission (D&D) cleanup funds for the Piketon reservation by $15 million.
Joined by congressmen Bill Johnson and Steve Stivers, the southern Ohio representatives worked to keep the federal government’s commitment to cleaning up Cold War contamination. Ultimately, the amendment failed by a vote of 112-309.
“Pike County, and the region, is held hostage and unable to develop their economy and their land until the cleanup is complete” Wenstrup said on the House floor. “After decades of supporting our nation in the Cold War, we can’t let the federal government abandon its commitment to cleaning up the facility in Piketon and risk so many jobs.”
Wenstrup told his colleagues in Congress at the height of the atomic age the government began enriching uranium as a part of the United States’ arms race against a Soviet threat. Now, a half-century later, the Piketon facility needs to be cleaned-up, a task that has been entrusted to the Department of Energy.
“Like many other DOE projects, Portsmouth is largely funded through uranium sales,” Wenstrup said. “Since the price of uranium has dropped significantly since Fukishima, additional funding is necessary to make up for the loss of revenue.”
Wenstrup said the people of Pike County and the region surrounding it worked “extremely hard” for the nation security interests of the U.S.
“Unfortunately we, in the federal government, seem to be running from them in their time of need,” Wenstrup said.
The amendment would redirect $15 million to the ongoing D&D efforts from administrative and other energy accounts in the annual Energy and Water spending bill. Wenstrup indicated he would vote against the final bill, noting that he could not support legislation that leaves the cleanup process so underfunded.
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 1928, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.