Fluor-B&W Portsmouth working to preserve momentum with budget outlook

By Wayne Allen

May 9, 2014

By Wayne Allen

The leadership of Fluor-B&W Portsmouth meet with the Scioto County Commissioners quarterly to update them on ongoing activities with the Decontamination and Decommissioning (D&D) of the former gaseous diffusion plant in Piketon.

A continued topic of discussion in this setting is the federal budget and what impact it will have on current and future D&D work.

“I told you commissioners) the last time we were here for 2014 or congressional delegation stepped up and got us a bump up in the omnibus bill that was passed by congress. That basically restored our funding to levels that were consistent with 2013,” said Dennis Carr Fluor-B&W Site Project Director. “As a result we have set aside any need for workforce restructuring actions. At least until later in the fiscal year until we evaluate nest years funding.”

He said with consistent funding levels they were able to proceed as planed with projects for the fiscal year.

Carr said the increased funding was needed to compensate for the declining price of uranium.

“The uranium price has shrunk substantially. About 80 percent of our funding comes from the sale of uranium, with the other 20 coming from appropriations,” Carr said. “We went from the Christmas of 2012 we were selling uranium $121 a kilogram now we are selling at somewhere around $93 a kilogram. So, we’ve lost $33 million of barter capability,” Carr said.

He said the focus has now turned to fiscal year 2015.

In his Fiscal Year 2015 budget request, President Barack Obama has included $221.8 million for the continued cleanup at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant (GDP) at Piketon. That request includes an increase of over $22 million from FY 2014, enacted to offset reduced revenues reflecting current uranium price and the expected quantities of uranium anticipated to be transferred in FY 2015 to the Department of Energy prime contractor.

“The presidents (proposed) budget has some challenges for us. Right now it appears there is a reduction in that, to the tune of about $23 million,” Carr said. “That could be off set by an increase in barter if it were to go up. Right now the market analysis is that, that price will not recover.”

He said now they have to consider funding implications for fiscal year 2015 and provide the Department of Energy with an impact analysis.

Carr said that same information would be provided to the congressional delegation to see if they would take similar actions in 2015 as they did in 2014 to restore funding levels.

“The bottom line is, it’s very positive for FY (Fiscal Year) 2014, FY15 we’ve got our eye on it and we need to work together to try to preserve the projects momentum,” Carr said.

Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT