By Frank Lewis
With the Decontamination and Decommissioning (D&D) project at Piketon facing a loss of $110 million funding in 2015, and some 700 employees facing possible layoff, Piketon Mayor Billy R. Spencer has sent a letter of his own to U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, opening with - “Once in a while an opportunity comes along that provides us the chance to do something truly important. And opportunity that could have a positive impact on hundreds of families. Senator, we strongly feel that opportunity is here.”
Spencer reminds Brown of the consequences of the failure of the federal government to provide the funding including the possible job losses.
“We are talking about highly competitive salaries that allow employees to not only contribute to our tax base, but allow middle-class employees to buy homes, cars, coach little league and to give to church and local charities,” Spencer said. “You have been a great friend to this site for many, many years going back to your days on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.”
Spencer reminds Brown that he has watched as the site has transformed from producing nuclear fuel for the U.S. Navy to the environmental clean-up project it is today.
“You have met our workers and you have heard their stories,” Spencer writes. “The former A-plant is more than just a job to many of its workers. It has allowed them to live the American dream in an area of our state where recession is like a yoke and silver linings are few and far between.”
Spencer then urges Brown to continue to fight for the funding of the D&D project.
“Fortunately for Ohio families, the opportunity to stave off this crisis is at your doorstep. Armed with the knowledge of the plant and the families in our community you have the ability to call on your fellow lawmakers and the Department of Energy to provide funding to keep the clean-up moving forward,” Spencer said. “Once the clean-up is complete and the property ready for redevelopment, you have the opportunity to help a community transform yet again a shutdown plant into a thriving location for new industries providing highly skilled and highly compensated jobs. This can’t happen without your leadership. Opportunity is at your doorstep. Senator, will you answer it?”
It should be noted that Brown and his counterpart in the Senate, Senator Rob Portman, have sent letters to several Washington entities including Ernest Moniz, Secretary of the DOE, urging them to work on getting the funding to keep the project running in 2015. The D&D project receives 70 percent of its funding from the sale of uranium on the open market, and the price has been plummeting in recent years. The Other 30 percent is from federal appropriations.
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 1928, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.