Company responds

FERMCO denies reports of wrongdoing


BY TIM BONFIELD
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The company managing the cleanup at the former Fernald uranium processing facility issued a statement Sunday denying reports of financial wrongdoing published Sunday by The Enquirer. The Fernald Environmental Restoration Management Corporation (FERMCO) and its parent company, Fluor Daniel Inc., ''categorically deny The Enquirer's highly misleading and completely unsubstantiated allegations.''

In a prepared statement, FERMCO officials said they attempted to provide The Enquirer with information that would refute concerns about financial wrongdoing and show that Fernald has been run safely under FERMCO's watch. They said they were dismayed that the newspaper printed its first installment of a four-day series one day before the meeting could take place.

In response, Enquirer editor Larry Beaupre said, ''The stories, as published, are fully documented and accurate. We stand by the stories, and the facts speak for themselves.''

Mr. Beaupre said Enquirer reporter Mike Gallagher had been working since Jan. 24 to get FERMCO and Fluor Daniel officials to respond to questions raised in the six-month investigation. Efforts included flying out to Fluor Daniel's headquarters in Irvine, Calif.

FERMCO president Don Ofte and other officials did meet Thursday with The Enquirer. ''We gave them every opportunity to explain themselves at that meeting. They had little to offer,'' Mr. Beaupre said.

FERMCO and Fluor Daniel were the ones who insisted on waiting until today to share information from an internal audit, Mr. Beaupre said. The newspaper offered to review documents Friday night and on Saturday reiterated its willingness to meet with them at any time, Mr. Beaupre said.

Published Feb. 12, 1996.