Loophole Opens Nuclear Window for Kentucky

Apr 24, 2012

A new state law will make it legal to re-enrich depleted uranium tails in Kentucky. But the legislation doesn’t go very far to help the facility that’s been waiting for federal approval to do just that. Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant spokesperson Georgann Lookofsky says without federal permission to re-enrich the spent tails, as well as a better utility contract, the plant could shut down by the end of next month. But Lookofsky says the legislation wasn’t passed with the current incarnation of the Paducah plant in mind.

 “Rather, the change is expected to promote future job opportunities here in Paducah that really build on the community’s expertise and experience working in the nuclear field.”

That possibility worries Art Williams of the Kentucky Conservation Committee. There’s still a ban on nuclear powered-energy in Kentucky, but the bill opens the door to using nuclear energy to turn coal into natural gas. He says that’s a dangerous loophole, and nuclear energy could pose safety and cost issues for the Commonwealth.