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Federal Money Averts Layoffs At Portsmouth Plant

Barrels stacked on the ground at the Portsmouth plant hold hundreds of thousands of tons of unenriched, raw uranium that was never used. Now it's being gradually sold off to help pay for the cleanup.
Lewis Wallace

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The latest federal appropriations for cleanup work at a Cold War-era uranium plant in southern Ohio are expected to again avert a mass layoff at the site.

That's welcome news for the roughly 1,900 people who work on decontaminating and decommissioning the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon. They've been warned about the possibility of hundreds of layoffs periodically over the past two years as they repeatedly waited on last-minute approval of funding.

The site project director says the bill signed Friday by President Barack Obama should provide enough money to maintain the current level of cleanup work.

The bill also allots nearly $22 million toward creating an on-site waste disposal facility. That's less than project officials hoped for but enough to design the facility and start preparing the site.