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Piketon plant to get $118M for cleanup

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) recently announced that the Piketon Uranium Enrichment Plant in Portsmouth will receive $118 million in funds from the economic recovery legislation to accelerate environmental cleanup work.

In early January, Brown led a bipartisan group of eight U.S. Senators in calling for the economic recovery legislation to include a significant investment in Department of Energy (DOE) nuclear cleanup sites. Piketon’s allocation of $118 million is expected to create 120 jobs in the region.

“These funds will accelerate work that is long overdue while driving critical economic development in the Scioto Valley,” said Brown. “Piketon and the surrounding region have been neglected too long. These funds will go a long way toward ensuring clean water, clean air, and clean land while also creating jobs.”

Brown has been a strong advocate for cleanup funds at Piketon. On Jan. 15, 2009, Brown led a bipartisan group of eight U.S. Senators in calling for $6 billion in the economic recovery package to be dedicated to the cleanup of existing DOE nuclear sites.

In Portsmouth, the $118 million in funds will be used to demolish unused facilities and cleanup 19 acres of contaminated soils. The funds will also prevent further groundwater contamination by removing the source of the highest contaminant concentration.

In 1989 DOE created the Environmental Management program to reduce the threats to health, safety, and the environment posed by contamination and waste at DOE weapons complex facilities across the country. These sites, located in New York, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, Idaho, and Washington represent the environmental legacy from the production of nuclear weapons over the course of several decades and account for the vast majority of this nation’s environmental liabilities. The DOE has characterized the cleanup of its sites as the largest environmental cleanup program in the world.

Each year, between $5.5 billion and $7.3 billion in federal funds is devoted to the cleanup of these sites. In addition to cleanup costs, DOE spends huge sums of money on “landlord” or “mortgage” costs associated with maintaining safety at sites and simply “keeping the lights on.” For example, the annual landlord costs for the Portsmouth site in Ohio are approximately $110 million per year.