PORTSfuture Project signifies efforts of DOE to significantly engage the community about the future of the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant."
Through a multifaceted community outreach program at Portsmouth, DOE worked diligently with stakeholders to understand the community’s future use vision for the Portsmouth site after cleanup is complete. With the assistance of the PORTSfuture Project and interaction with the Southern Ohio Diversification Initiative (SODI), the Portsmouth Site Specific Advisory Board, elected officials, economic development professionals and others, the community has expressed a consensus vision to reindustrialize appropriate portions of the Portsmouth Site property.
Community leaders have discussed a “phased approach” to reindustrialization, meaning that development efforts would ideally be made in tandem with the Decontamination and Decommissioning (D&D) project. As the project continues in the years ahead and more of the central industrial area within Perimeter Road is remediated, more land may become available for development that offers existing infrastructure.
Economic development professionals in the area have been working to evaluate the site’s assets and determine future industries that may be suitable at the Portsmouth Site. These efforts will also provide DOE with necessary information about the community’s specific end-state needs, which will be considered while making decisions regarding the D&D project. In 2018, the first parcel of land was transferred to the local Community Reuse Organization, SODI, and additional land is being studied for further tranfers.
The D&D project helps prepare the site for reuse by removing outdated and unnecessary buildings, disposing of waste, recycling clean materials, remediating the environment, and right-sizing site utilities and infrastructure with the future and local community in mind.
In 2010, DOE provided a grant to Ohio University to engage the community on the future of PORTS. A full report was published on this effort, entitled the PORTSfuture Project.
This study confirmed that jobs and economic issues are the biggest concerns to people in the region, as evidenced by the following findings:
- 83% listed jobs/economy/business development as the most important issue to the community.
- 75% indicated that the Portsmouth site is very important to the future of the community for jobs and the economy.
- 95% of votes were cast for some type of job-creating scenario for future use of the DOE property
SODI, the Southern Ohio Diversification Initiative, was designated by DOE to be the Community Reuse Organization for the Portsmouth site in 1995. SODI serves Pike, Ross, Scioto and Jackson counties with a clear mission through economic diversification, development, asset transition and business development.
The process to transfer real property begins with the identification of potentially excess property by the site that is appropriate for economic development and possibly other purposes such as conservation. Property transfers follow a thorough process including environmental assessments and regulatory review and approvals.
The initial Portsmouth Site transfer of real property for economic development to SODI was completed in 2018. The 80-acre parcel located within Perimeter Road once held a former air strip used during the early years of plant operation. The transfer followed a rigorous review process that included the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, approval from the Secretary of Energy, and a 60-day congressional review.
There are many potential benefits resulting from DOE land transfer, including: enabling community-led development for job creation and to improve the regional economy; enabling opportunities for conservation and other public benefits; tax revenue; and reducing the federal footprint.
Through an agreement with SODI, DOE is able to transfer eligible property to SODI that can be reused, sold or recycled for the benefit of economic development in the four-county region surrounding the plant (Pike, Scioto, Ross, and Jackson).
Called the Asset Transition Agreement, it has generated more than 23 million pounds of material for recycling or reuse, and approximately $6 million in proceeds that support local economic development. The Portsmouth Asset Recovery & Recycling (ARR) Program identifies eligible non-contaminated equipment and materials for recycling and/or reuse, saving taxpayers landfill-disposal costs and landfill volume. The majority of materials and items from the ARR Program are transferred to SODI. SODI uses the proceeds from those materials and items to fund economic development projects and programs throughout the four-county region including Pike, Ross, Jackson, and Scioto counties. Proceeds from the ARR program have leveraged other funding opportunities for regional job-supporting infrastructure or amenities, including:
- $150,000 to a Scioto County industrial park upgrade project
- $150,000 to Pike County for a $2.7 million sewer expansion project
- $150,000 to Jackson County for an airport upgrade project
- $150,000 to Ross County for an industrial park upgrade