Ohio commissioners urge Rick Perry to fund nuclear cleanup

PIKETON, Ohio (AP) — Commissioners from four southern Ohio counties have written to U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry urging continued funding for cleanup of a former Cold War-era uranium plant. However, the Piketon mayor has written his own letter of opposition to a possible onsite waste disposal facility.

The Portsmouth Daily Times reports all commissioners from Scioto County recently signed the letter that supports a vision plan for the Piketon site which includes the disposal facility. The plant cleanup produces some of the best-paid jobs in an area with high unemployment.

Pike, Ross and Jackson county commissioners also signed.

Piketon Mayor Billy Spencer opposed the part of the plan that includes a nuclear waste dump. Spencer said commissioners will benefit financially from the project’s contractor who wants to build the dump, and the waste will pose a risk to Piketon residents.

“It is easy for others to speak on your behalf when they are not the ones who will face the music,” Spencer wrote.

The plant cleanup provides some of the best-paying jobs to Piketon, which suffers from high-unemployment. The cleanup is funded through the sale of government-owned uranium inventories. However, a swing in the market price for such inventories has led the project to struggle for funding and years of threats of massive layoffs for employees.

In the letter signed by all 12 county commissioners in the area, the plant was described as a “key economic driver” for the area since the 1950s.

Ohio U.S. Sens. Republican Rob Portman and Democrat Sherrod Brown have invited Perry to visit the plant site.

A message for comment was left for the Energy Department’s press office in Washington.