Wednesday, January 10, 2001

Fernald sees help in subcontracting

By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        CROSBY TOWNSHIP — A new provision of the renewed “closure contract” to clean up the former Fernald uranium processing site could prove to be a boon for those who stand to lose their livelihoods as the project nears completion.

        Fluor Fernald officials, according to the phone book-sized contract ratified in November, can subcontract certain jobs it thinks could be done more efficiently.

        This new condition fits in with the Fernald Community Reuse Organization's charge to offset anticipated economic hardship that will come to the surrounding area when the plant shuts down in nine years.

        Curt Paddock, CRO economic development consultant, said Tuesday that his group is bolstered by the possibilities of the new provision.

        At Department of Energy sites with similar cleanup projects, this subcontracting option has provided a significant boost to the surrounding economy, he said.

        “At the DOE site in New Mexico, they had a graphics unit where all employees of the prime contractor printed brochures and other material,” Mr. Paddock said. “They came to the conclusion that the job could be done on an outsource basis and that it could be done with a contractor created from those workers who had at one time worked for the contractor.”

        This area's CRO has helped with the startup of three businesses run by either current or former Fernald employees or residents affected by the plant's closure, he said.

        This new initiative could boost that number substantially and put to use newly-awarded federal funding CRO has received.

        This week, the agency learned it would receive $200,000 from the DOE's Office of Worker and Community Transition earmarked for the agency's entrepreneurial plan.

        This money will be added to the $325,000 the group received in May and can help move forward several projects CRO has in the works, including a feasibility study for the creation of a business incubator, a single site that could house several start-up companies.

        Between 1997 and 2008, the site's total annual economic impact in Greater Cincinnati will decline by 81 percent, from $735 million to $136 million, according to a study commissioned by CRO. Direct and indirect employment through the region will decrease from 4,394 in 1997 to 1,629 in 2008.

        The cleanup project at the former Fernald uranium processing plant began in 1991. Fluor's previous contract listed the end of 2008 as the target completion date. But the new contract moves the target date to the end of 2010.


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