This letter to the editor, written by Piketon, Ohio, Mayor Billy Spencer, was originally published in the Columbus Dispatch Sunday, Nov. 12, under the headline: "Letter: State Turns Back on Southern Ohio." It is reprinted here with Spencer's permission.)
Piketon Mayor Billy Spencer
As the mayor of the village of Piketon, I would like to thank Reporter Holly Zachariah and The Dispatch
for being the only statewide media to recognize a raging story in southern Ohio ("Piketon fights construction of radioactive waste dump"
11/5/2017). The story of the federal government forcing nuclear waste on an unwilling constituency is not only troublesome to us, but should be troublesome to every Ohioan because our state is in line to own the largest nuclear waste landfill in the eastern half of the United States.
We do not extend the same gratitude to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Craig Butler, whose agency was asleep at the wheel when the Department of Energy provided false information to the public about the soundness of the geology beneath this behemoth. Worse yet, agency officials will not meet with the village to address their shortcomings, the concerns we have for our safety, and the impacts of this 100-acre dump.
Butler indicated in the article that he was afraid of a “kangaroo court” in Piketon. Although we could not disagree more with the DOE’s Joel Bradburne on onsite disposal of nuclear waste in Piketon, we do at least respect his courage to come to Piketon to face the music, courage that the Ohio EPA and the Kasich administration apparently do not have. Butler’s convenient opinion is just another insult to the people of southern Ohio, and we have no confidence whatsoever that Ohio EPA will challenge DOE on anything.
We do not believe the Ohio EPA is qualified to oversee the project and we want that responsibility transferred to the U.S. EPA. Further, the village of Piketon voted unanimously to file a complaint with the Ohio inspector general and request an investigation of the circumstances around this decision, the ineptitude of the Ohio EPA, and the sham of a public process that occurred.
Butler called DOE’s lie about the geology “a huge misstep” by the department, but did not point out his own agency’s negligence in failing to correct DOE and ensuring the public got truthful information when it was providing input into the waste-disposition decision. That fact alone should be enough to reopen the decision, but DOE and Ohio EPA know what will happen if that occurs, that the southern Ohio community will unload a barrage of comments that will make it perfectly clear this pathway is totally unacceptable to the people here.