Kentucky lawmakers are set to pass a bill with the hope it will help a uranium enrichment plant in Paducah create new operations.
House Bill 559 would allow the Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Paducah to use depleted uranium tails and either re-enrich or sell those tails.
The state bill is only steps away from becoming law. But the real decision is up to the federal government. Right now, the Department of Energy doesn't allow for extra projects outside of those that produce electricity
Kentucky's federal delegation is pressuring the DOE to change its mind, but so far their lobbying hasn't worked and the plant could shut down in May.
House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins says House Bill 559 is a companion to those federal efforts.
"We hope that this will couple up with what is going on with the federal delegation as well at the federal level and hopefully show our support to try to keep those jobs alive," Adkins says.
Kentucky's two senators and Representative Ed Whitfield have federal legislation allowing for the same flexibility for the Paducah plant. But it has not passed Congress.
Paducah State Senator Bob Leeper thanked supporters for more than five years of work on the legislation.
"Years ago, (supporters) approached me with the idea of trying to do something to create opportunities for the employees at USEC, who eventually are going to lose their job, quite frankly," Leeper says.
House Bill 559 cleared Leeper's budget committee today. It now goes to the Senate for passage before heading to the governor's desk.
This is the unnoffical copy of the bill from the Legislative Research Commission:
AN ACT relating to energy technologies.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky:
Section 1. KRS 278.605 is amended to read as follows:
(1) No construction shall commence on a nuclear power facility in the Commonwealth until the Public Service Commission finds that the United States government, through its authorized agency, has identified and approved a demonstrable technology or means for the disposal of high level nuclear waste.
(2) The provisions of this section shall not be construed as applying to or precluding the following nuclear-based technologies, provided that electricity is not the primary output of the processes:
(a) Enrichment of depleted uranium hexaflouride tails;
(b) Processing of metals contaminated with radioactive materials;
(c) Recycling or reprocessing of spent nuclear fuels; and
(d) Nuclear-assisted coal or gas conversion processes.