Originally published January 7, 2019 in the Daily Times
PIKETON, OH –U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) announced U.S. Department of Energy’s intent to invest $115 million over the next three years, potentially resulting in 60 initial jobs, to produce a cascade of 16 centrifuges at the former American Centrifuge Project in Piketon to demonstrate the production of high assay low enriched uranium (HALEU). HALEU will be the fuel source for advanced nuclear reactors, technology that can be used to improve the nation’s energy security. A domestic source of enriched uranium is also needed for national security purposes.
“Today is another milestone in the effort to get Piketon back up and running doing the work that is so important to our country,” Portman said Monday at the plant. “While there will be a consideration period before this decision is final, I’m encouraged by today’s announcement. Getting Piketon back to its full potential benefits the skilled workforce here, the surrounding local economy, and strengthens national energy and defense security. I want to thank the Department of Energy and the Trump administration for reconsidering the Obama administration’s decision to end the domestic uranium enrichment demonstration program. I will continue to work with my colleagues and the administration to ensure this site gets cleaned up and ready for redevelopment.”
Under questioning from Portman last year, Secretary Perry – who toured the site with Portman in 2017 – committed to re-evaluating the Obama administration’s decision to end the domestic uranium enrichment demonstration program because having domestic enrichment capabilities would provide stability and security to the country. The demonstration program – known as the American Centrifuge Plant – operated at Piketon until it was disbanded by the Obama administration in 2015.
Portman has also been a supporter in the decontamination and decommissioning efforts at the former gaseous diffusion plant at the Piketon site. He has consistently worked to secure funding needed to maintain current employment levels to cleanup at the site. In March, Portman announced a $30 million increase in appropriations in the final FY 2018 appropriations bill. In February 2018, Portman visited the plant and met with key stakeholders — including 2nd Disrict Congressman Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), the U.S. Department of Energy, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, the Southern Ohio Diversification Initiative, the Site Specific Advisory Board, and local and state elected officials — to discuss the future of cleanup activities at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant. During the meeting, Portman announced that he had secured a commitment from DOE to clean up the existing landfills and plumes at the plant.