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Piketon workers watch and wait

Have you ever been told you were the winner of the grand prize of a sweepstakes only to find out it was a fraud? This is how the workers at the Portsmouth Gaseous Difusion Plant in Piketon must feel.

Thursday, February 01, 2001

Have you ever been told you were the winner of the grand prize of a sweepstakes only to find out it was a fraud? This is how the workers at the Portsmouth Gaseous Difusion Plant in Piketon must feel.

In October, then-Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson announced $630 million would be released to operate the plant on standby and implement new enrichment technology – a move which would save an estimated 1,200 jobs. Just three months later it was announced the Clinton administration bypassed Congress and may have illegally appropriated these funds. Consequently, the Bush administration has put the money on hold, pending review.

The privitization of the uranium -enrichment industry in 1998 was the first step towards the plant’s demise. The investor-owned United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC) took over the plant’s operations and hundreds of jobs were cut. Then, USEC claimed financial instibility would force the company to have to close the Piketon plant and focus its attention to its other plant in Paducha, Ky.

During his campaign, President Bush promised to support the plant. His word may be good, but in the meantime the workers at the plant will be put on hold just like the funds.