- Associated Press - Friday, May 1, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) - The House gave final approval Friday to additional federal money for the decontamination and decommissioning of a Cold War-era uranium plant in southern Ohio, although its fate is uncertain due to a presidential veto threat.

The measure provides $213 million specifically for cleanup of the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon. That’s $48 million above President Barack Obama’s budget request and an amount similar to last year’s, when Congress stepped in with a last-minute cash infusion to help stave off layoffs and complete the redevelopment.

Republican Reps. Brad Wenstrup and Bill Johnson, who have helped push for the additional dollars, said in a statement Friday that the bill’s passage is good news for southern Ohio.

“This is a big step for these projects,” Wenstrup said. “Because of the early and aggressive efforts to highlight the important work being done at Piketon, the House was able to secure full funding levels very early in the appropriations process.”

Still, actual funding remains uncertain. The GOP-controlled House approved the money as part of a broader water and energy package that the White House says will be likely vetoed by Obama because it “drastically underfund” investments to clean energy.

The Senate has yet to release its proposal.

Ohio lawmakers say the federal money is critical to help provide job security at the 1,800-employee plant, which provides some of the best-paying jobs in a pocket of high unemployment in the state. In December, hundreds of people at that plant braced for layoffs until Congress approved additional money. The local president of the union representing some of the workers at the plant recently sent a letter to Obama asking that the project be fully funded.

The Energy Department, which runs the cleanup, has said it can make up a funding shortfall for Piketon through a barter program in which the government sells uranium on the open market. It acknowledged the uncertainty of uranium sales but cited a “constrained funding environment across the government” for the lower number.

___

Associated Press writer Jennifer Smola in Cleveland contributed to this report.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide