Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry stopped at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant on Thursday to show a commitment to funding clean-up efforts at the site.
The uranium enrichment facility operated for 50 years and was decommissioned in 2013. The DOE now oversees the site. At least a million cubic feet of contaminated soil and sediment have been removed, as well as 66 million pounds of contaminated scrap metal.
According to McConnell, the site currently employs more than 1200 workers. Perry and McConnell said they were committed to it’s clean up.
“The cold war was an expensive process and communities like Paducah played an incredibly important role in that.” Perry said, “We have a moral responsibility to take care of this facility properly as we decommission it.”
Perry recognized Anne White, head of the Energy Department’s Office of Environmental Management, as the person charged with providing the professional oversight the project and workers need.
Paducah mayor Brandi Harless says their visit is a good sign that the administration understands the importance of the remediation. Perry says it also has the complete support of the President.
Governor Matt Bevin signed legislation last year lifting a state ‘nuclear moratorium.’ Neither McConnell nor Perry promised nuclear power would return to Paducah.
“I think that was a relic of the past in Kentucky in which we considered any competition with Coal as a bad idea,” McConnell said. “I think the general assembly did the right thing to eliminate a nuclear ban, it doesn’t automatically mean there will be a domestic nuclear market, as all of you know the price of uranium is pretty low right now, but we want to support all forms of energy.”
The Four Rivers Nuclear partnership received a 10 year, $1.5 billion performance-based contract.