Nuclear enrichment plant good news

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 15, 2004

Tribune editorial staff

Southern Ohioans should be rejoicing in the news that United States Enrichment Corporation plans to build a $1.5 billion nuclear enrichment plant in nearby Piketon.

According USEC, the site in Piketon was chosen over one in Paducah, Ky., in large part because of its existing complex of buildings that will be used for a new process of nuclear enrichment. USEC must get a license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build the plant, secure funds to pay for it and prove that the technology it wants to use at the facility is reliable. USEC plans to file for its license from the NRC in August.

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Although Piketon is not considered a neighboring community to Ironton - it is about an hour's drive - it is close enough to where we could see trickle down effects.


says approximately 300

construction workers will be needed for the plant, which is expected to be operational by the end of the decade. Some of those workers will be Lawrence Countians.

Once the plant is complete, other companies may see the faith USEC has in the region and look to locate here as well. Keep in mind, Lawrence County has two industrial parks, as well as other enticing land, primed for development.

The new plant will be bittersweet

in a sense. USEC ended uranium production tin Piketon in 2001 when the plant had 1,200 workers, some of

which shifted over to environmental cleanup and maintenance while the new plant expects to employ as many as 500 when it is fully operational.

The decline of the region's industry has hurt the economy. As America has left the industrial age behind, for the most part, new technology brings new opportunities.

While one plant alone will not turn the economy around, each economic development move in Southern Ohio is a proverbial baby step. Each small step we take could eventually turn into long strides. And, if we take enough long strides, we can expect a prosperous future.