Citizens Advisory Board/Dept of Energy/Piketon:S.O.N.G.

April 7, 2008
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Dear Friends of SONG,

The Department of Energy has set an April 11 deadline for applications for the Citizens Advisory Board. We do not understand this deadline and have asked DOE to explain it, without response. But there it is. DOE has also not explained why there is no on-line application procedure, or why the agency has not contacted various important segments of the community like Indian Tribes with historic ties to the Piketon site.

Given the situation, we urge all of you to apply for membership. We fear an attempt to stack the CAB with representatives of development interests. Therefore, the more citizens without conflicts of interest apply, the less defense the agency will have for placing individuals on the board who do have a conflict of interest.

Ask family members to apply. Ask friends to apply. Even if you live far away and have questions about service, apply. However we decide to challenge the CAB process in the future, your application is important.

Applications can be downloaded from   www.LPPORTS.com. They must then be mailed to:

Citizens Advisory Board

PO Box 700

Piketon, OH  45661

How Piketon Ohio Became a Potemkin Village/by Geoffrey Sea

March 16, 2008
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Dear Friends,

The following Op-Ed piece by Geoffrey Sea may help explain some of the recent news and complexities of developments at Piketon. Please disseminate it widely, and encourage readers to attend the SONG community meeting at 4 pm, and the DOE public meeting at 6 pm, on Tuesday, March 18, at the OSU Endeavor Center in Piketon.

A truncated version of this piece appears in the Sunday, March 16, Pike County News Watchman. We hope other papers will also carry it. You are free to reprint or post it, but please let us know if you do.Hope to see you Tuesday!

Your neighbors at SONG


How Piketon Became a Potemkin Village

By Geoffrey Sea


When the Russian czarina toured war-ravaged Crimea in 1797, she viewed hundreds of hollow buildings and false fronts, momentarily populated by jovial village actors. Her minister, Grigori Potemkin, had engineered the grand theatrical production to boost his own political career. Hence the term Potemkin village – the mock display of a boomtown that is really bust.

Politicians now tour the ravaged lower Scioto Valley in election years, to announce grand new atomic projects, secured by none other than themselves, that will bring “many thousands” of new jobs.

In 2004, it was USEC’s “American Centrifuge Plant,” stewarded by a company acknowledged to have run a technology scam once before, convincing gullible investors that USEC had developed “atomic vapor lasers” it really hadn’t. The hollow buildings to house USEC’s newest boondoggle, were and are already standing – built in the 1980s to house the DOE’s Gas Centrifuge Enrichment Plant, another bit of stagecraft that never acquired innards.


Spin, gas, and vaporware, but no jobs. (more…)

Vital Public Meeting Tuesday 3/18 in Piketon/S.O.N.G.

March 14, 2008
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Dear Friends of SONG, [Southern Ohio Neighbors Group]

Last March, more than 300 of you responded to our appeal to turn out for a crucial public hearing held by the U.S. Department of Energy to protest a plan to turn Piketon into a massive storage dump for high-level nuclear waste.

We need your attendance again at a vital public meeting this Tuesday, March 18, at Piketon, at the same location. (Details below.)

Because of YOUR turnout last year and other activism, the GNEP plan was stalled. Congress radically cut GNEP funding, DOE has indefinitely delayed any siting decisions, and the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement due last summer is still not issued. Once a new administration takes office, GNEP likely will be dead. Thank you for helping us show that ordinary citizens do still have some power in America!

However, the demise of GNEP creates other problems at Piketon. Because DOE had planned to pack the old process buildings with spent fuel, they did not plan for cleanup of the site, and did not charter a Citizens Advisory Board to oversee that cleanup. Ted Strickland has just announced that he would like to bring a NEW uranium enrichment plant to Piketon, owned by AREVA, the national nuclear company of France. (more…)

S.O.N.G. Update on Piketon Nuke Plant Cleanup & more

February 14, 2008
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Update from SONG [Southern Ohio Neighbors Group]

Snowy Salutations!


We hope this finds you all warm and well! It has been awhile since our last message, so we’d like to take this opportunity to update you on some of the recent news pertinent to what is happening surrounding issues involving the Piketon, Ohio Department of Energy site. There have been several recent publications of interest which are included at the end of this message. (Unfortunately, our website is not currently updated, but hopefully it soon will be and we can direct you to links to these sorts of things instead of sending such lengthy messages.) (more…)

For Sale: West’s Deadly Nuclear Secrets [London, U.K., Times ]

January 23, 2008
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Here is a very scary story that is just now gaining traction on the Net, more news you won’t find in the Dayton Daily…
Times Online Logo 222 x 25

January 6, 2008

A WHISTLEBLOWER has made a series of extraordinary claims about how corrupt government officials allowed Pakistan and other states to steal nuclear weapons secrets.

Sibel Edmonds, a 37-year-old former Turkish language translator for the FBI, listened into hundreds of sensitive intercepted conversations while based at the agency’s Washington field office.

She approached The Sunday Times last month after reading about an Al-Qaeda terrorist who had revealed his role in training some of the 9/11 hijackers while he was in Turkey.

Edmonds described how foreign intelligence agents had enlisted the support of US officials to acquire a network of moles in sensitive military and nuclear institutions.

Among the hours of covert tape recordings, she says she heard evidence that one well-known senior official in the US State Department was being paid by Turkish agents in Washington who were selling the information on to black market buyers, including Pakistan.

The name of the official – who has held a series of top government posts – is known to The Sunday Times. He strongly denies the claims.

However, Edmonds said: “He was aiding foreign operatives against US interests by passing them highly classified information, not only from the State Department but also from the Pentagon, in exchange for money, position and political objectives.”

She claims that the FBI was also gathering evidence against senior Pentagon officials – including household names – who were aiding foreign agents.

“If you made public all the information that the FBI have on this case, you will see very high-level people going through criminal trials,” she said. (more…)

Watch Your Wallets Ohioans; It’s Electric Re-reg Time!

October 19, 2007
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Post from Brian Rothenberg’s Blog:


We invented it. Edison was from us. Brush lived among us. And we seldom think much about what the energy in that little light bulb has wrought unless we take a drive into Amish country in Ohio.

We take it for granted that it will power our appliances, chill our food, keep us cool and allow us to watch the Cleveland Indians, OSU Buckeyes (when the powers that be let us — but that’s another story) or the Daily Show’s daily dose of sarcasm.

If we’re in the hospital, everything from the bed to the equipment can’t work if the power doesn’t.
Each passing generation becomes more reliant on it – especially in our computer age. Without it, life would be much different.

And the fact is that if the price of electricity goes way up, it has probably more impact than George W’s rant on taxes, as most of our monthly bottom lines would be much different and the spiral of spending constraints could make a real impact on Ohio’s economy.

Which is a long way of saying that Senate Bill 221 deserves your attention, especially the part that explains what leeway legislators want to give the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to set the rates we all pay for electricity.
SB 221, as introduced, was largely the work of Gov. Ted Strickland, who joined with business leaders, labor leaders and municipal electricity companies and in expressing concern for Ohio’s bottom line.

The seeds for SB 221 were planted in 1999 after Ohio and 17 other states rushed to the finish line like 49ers to the gold rush to deregulate their electricity services and let the open market set the prices. This was after all the height of the free market Reaganomics in all its glory: Dereg of utilities, dereg of phones, dereg of airlines and yes NAFTA – a gold rush of profits many of which have lost their luster.

(By the way, anyone notice we deregulated phone companies, sliced them and diced them from the old Baby Bells and now they are put back in large part as supergiant AT&T? Makes you wonder who made all that money through corporate mergers on the way back to a monopoly, doesn’t it. And gee, who pays for phone service – why all of us of course. Dereg is a great thing.)
Now back to electricity.
The goals of deregulation were lofty: The market would result in competition, causing prices to go down and consumers to benefit. On the floor of the Statehouse, it was discussed as if the savings in our wallets were a foregone conclusion.
The problem: No competitive market actually emerged, so the market began setting prices as high as the market would tolerate. In Maryland, where the phase-in has already ended, prices spiked up 72 percent in one year.

And quality began to suffer as power companies traded the unseen commodity of electrical energy in a fluctuating market much like gasoline deregulated into OPEC oversight in the 1970s.

Just in the years since we’ve begun to phase in deregulation, we’ve watched Enron go bust from the diversification and accounting games that accompanied a non-transparent utility, we’ve seen a major blackout that began in Northern Ohio and blacked out electricity from New York to Montreal, and of course, who can forget the revelation of a rusted cap at the top of an Ohio nuclear power plant.

So here we are, at the end of the phase-in of deregulation that was supposed to lower our costs and make utilities more efficient and the market was supposed to demand increased quality; and at the end of next year, the market will begin setting the prices in Ohio, causing fears that our prices will skyrocket, much like Maryland’s did.

Other than a handful of self-serving utilities, nobody really is arguing that there really is a competitive market but the Governor gave it a nod by allowing one to exist if someone can prove it exists, and most experts are convinced that unless Ohio does something before the end of next year, we really will end up like Maryland.

Given the general agreement that deregulation was a failure, the arguments over ending our flirtation with deregulation center largely on how much leeway the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) should have — if and when Ohio returns to a system of regulating electricity prices. And how much you and I and the other ratepayers should know about what goes into the PUCO’s pricing calculation. Transparency. We should have the right to know what fees and charges are being levied for the electric energy we are using.
In Ohio, there is a strong case to be made for the public’s right to know – not only given our recent political history, but given the experts who oversee our utilities. If you don’t believe me, you should believe the Lehman Brothers (well-regarded bean counters from Wall Street.)
Lehman does an annual ranking of state utility regulators and the PUCO in Ohio is routinely ranked about the most utility-friendly in the nation. And why would we not expect that after 16-years of cow-towing to corporate leaders who know how to play the political system in Ohio. After all, we are a company town as a state. We host industry giants First Energy and AEP that are behemoths of the industry and have much greater territory than just the Buckeye State.

It’s clear from things the Commission has done – and not done – that average consumers are left to battle for their pocketbooks. And it’s clear from utilities’ annual reports that electricity stockholders are doing quite nicely.
The consumer/utility balance is so out of whack that large industrial companies like Ford, and GM, and AK Steel, and Worthington Industries have banded together to gang up on the PUCO and demand that if it’s given the power to set utility rates, those of us who pay the rates should be allowed to peek in the utilities’ books. That’s the only way we’ll know if the prices the commission is setting (and the prices we’re paying) are fair, just and reasonable.

Back in pre-deregulation days, we all got to peek in the books – it was considered part of the progressive agenda of Teddy Roosevelt’s Republicans that the monopoly of large utility companies could only be balanced by the transparency of an open corporate set of books.

Back before they fixed electricity to help our pocket books, when a utility company wanted to raise rates, they had to go before the PUCO to justify the higher costs. All parties viewed this arrangement as part of the compact between the utility companies and the customers:

The state guaranteed each utility a base of customers, the regulators guaranteed the utilities a profit, the utilities guaranteed the state that it would provide electricity to those customers for a fair, just and reasonable price. To prove the prices were fair, the PUCO demanded a peek into the utilities’ books.
All that changed in deregulation – in the name of protecting your wallet – irony of ironies.
David Boehm, a lawyer who is working for some of Ohio’s largest employers, testified in favor or SB 221 and explained why open books are necessary – and how the process should work:

    “Witnesses would be heard and subject to cross-examination and all interested parties would be represented.
    Utilities could put on whatever other evidence they think relevant including evidence of market rates. If, thereafter, negotiations are entered into with the utilities, the basic data underlying those negotiations is open and transparent and known to everyone.
    We do not see how anyone in an open society could oppose such a provision. While flexibility is an obvious goal of S.B. 221, it must not be at the expense of due process or transparency.
    A federal appeals court judge, Damon Keith said in 2002 ‘Democracies’ die behind closed doors. The Framers of the First Amendment did not trust any government to separate the true from the false for us.”

Although Mr. Boehm might not know how anyone in an open society could oppose it, Ohio’s utilities found a way to oppose it.

With the ever increasing throng of lobbyists, consultants and employees, the utilities offered a string of audacious amendments. The bottom line: The want to continue to have a guaranteed set of customers and a guaranteed profit – but they want authority to veto any PUCO decisions they don’t like.
And they don’t want us to peek in their books.

That’s right. Let’s get this straight, they want guaranteed customers, they want guaranteed profits and want veto authority over a board appointed to protect the public’s interest.

See a problem here? Why have a PUCO?

And that’s what makes this issue so fascinating. For a company whose mission is to illuminate our lives, they sure seem to be angling for some reason to protect their profits, while shielding their costs.

And in Ohio, when you see the shadowy deal making in the Statehouse start to move away from transparency into darkness, you better grab your wallet and run.
So, here’s hoping our legislature finds the light switch or else we all need to padlock our wallets. After all the last time they tried to save us money – it created this mess to begin with.

What’s that definition of insanity again?

Gov. Strickland Visits Piketon;SONG Demands Piketon Investigation

October 17, 2007
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SONG News Release:


Strickland Visits Piketon;

 SONG Demands Piketon Investigation

 as Architect of Nuclear Waste Plan Retires


    On Sunday, Ted Strickland paid his first visit as Governor to Pike County, where he was met by many opponents of the plan to store high-level nuclear waste at Piketon. Only hours later, the legislative architect of the waste storage plan, David Hobson, announced he will not seek reelection to Congress.

    Hobson is best known for securing big budget items for his suburban Dayton-Springfield district, as former chairman and now ranking member of the Energy and Water Subcommittee of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. He was not so kind to neighboring Ohio districts. The plan for Piketon would have made lots of money for contractors in the wealthy Dayton-Springfield area, but would have sent the waste south, to Appalachian Ohio, for dumping in a poor rural county.

    Strickland appeared in Pike County at noon, to speak in the gymnasium at Piketon High School. He was met by a decidedly split audience. About half of those in attendance had some affiliation with SODI, one of the contractors on the waste project. The other half had some affiliation with SONG: The Southern Ohio Neighbors Group. About twenty in the crowd sported red-white-and-blue SONG caps.

    In his speech, which focused on statewide and national issues, the governor did not once mention the atomic site at Piketon. It is likely the first time since 1952 that a major politician has spoken in Pike County without boostering for the atomic boondoggle du jour. The US Department of Energy, which owns the site, is now stuck in a compulsory multi-billion dollar cleanup of the site, without the funds to do it. The waste project would have drastically reduced cleanup costs by allowing much of the contamination to remain in place.

    After the talk, the governor was approached by three SONG representatives, who handed his aides copies of the SONG petition that now has over 5,000 area signatures. The petition opposes any importation, storage or reprocessing of high-level nuclear waste in southern Ohio, and calls for establishment of a Citizens Advisory Board.

    The three also gave the governor a letter (attached) that calls on Strickland to return to Pike County for a town meeting, and that demands a full investigation of fraudulent misrepresentations in the waste dumping proposal. The three were Kathleen Boutis, president of SONG from Hobson’s Congressional district; Geoffrey Sea, who owns a historic home on the fence line of the atomic site; and Denny Bloomfield, former president of the union that represents Piketon workers.

    The letter highlights a promise made by Strickland in last year’s campaign to oppose both waste storage and nuclear reprocessing at Piketon. The letter notes, however, that on April 27, Strickland sent a letter to the Energy Secretary endorsing reprocessing at Piketon. SONG is calling on the Governor to retract that letter.

    “Ted, keep your promise!” is the letter’s refrain, and the phrase was used on a large banner in the parking lot outside the gymnasium where Strickland spoke.



SONG: Southern Ohio Neighbors Group

P.O. Box 161, Piketon, OH  45661

E-Mail: SHIPPSONG@aol.com   Website: www.OhioNeighbors.org

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