Brown, Portman, Rep. Steve Stivers among signers of letter to energy secretary

By Jessica Wehrman

Ohio’s two U.S. senators and a handful of U.S. House members have asked the Secretary of Energy to prioritize cleanup of the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon after the contractor on-site at the plant announced layoffs of nearly 700 last week.

Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, joined five U.S. House members form the state to urge Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to be an advocate for continued cleanup of the site.

“The Department of Energy has worked collaboratively with the Piketon community to develop an aggressive cleanup strategy that would see the project completed by 2024, improve the environmental footprint of the site, prepare the site for reindustrialization, save taxpayer dollars, and maximize employment levels,” the delegation wrote. “But last week’s announcement put the Department of Energy’s previous efforts in jeopardy.”

The group warned that if the layoffs proceed, it will mean a loss of one-third of the current workforce.

“This would significantly delay the completion date for the project which would inflate the project’s cost and force taxpayers to pay billions more to complete the same amount of work,” they wrote.

Specifically, the group wants Moniz to fight for more money for the project in spending bills currently being considered in Congress, as well as be an advocate for the project within the Obama administration.

Also signing the letter were Reps. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, Tim Ryan, D-Niles, Brad Wenstrup, R-Cincinnati and Steve Stivers, R-Upper Arlington.