Portman secures money for Piketon plant cleanup

By Jessica Wehrman } Washington Bureau

Sen. Rob Portman late last week said he has secured a commitment from the Department of Energy to clean up existing landfills and plumes at the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant.

The plant, which enriched uranium during the Cold War and later enriched uranium for nuclear power plants through 2001, has awaited cleanup for years, with Portman, R–Ohio, and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D–Ohio, among those fighting annually for cleanup money. Last September, Energy Secretary Rick Perry toured the site.

“I believe his visit here made a difference in securing today’s commitment form DOE,” Portman said.

Portman, citing a letter from the James Owendorff, principal deputy assistant secretary for Environmental Management for the Department of Energy to Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Craig Butler, said the letter meant the commitment is now “legally enforceable” and “will allow the entire site to be redeveloped to benefit the community.”

That letter reiterated that the Department of Energy would “excavate and consolidate the plumes and landfills within Perimeter Road as needed to meet the backfill requirements for the disposal facility.”

Portman made his comments at a meeting in Piketon Friday with key stakeholders including Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Cincinnati, who represents the Piketon area in the House.

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