The Pducah Sun

September 18, 1999

Bunning to lead Senate plant hearing

By Bill Bartleman
The Paducah Sun

The list of witnesses at Monday's Senate hearing into the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant includes the U.S. Department of Energy official who is in charge of investigating safety at the plant, and the president of Bechtel Jacobs Co.

Hearing hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the auditorium of the Fine Arts Center at Paducah Community College. U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning will lead the hearing, which is sanctioned by the Subcommittee on Energy Research, Development, Protection and Regulation.

U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield is the only other federal lawmaker who plans to attend. Bunning said he will give other senators on the committee a transcript of the hearing. Testimony will center on past and present worker safety issues.

Joseph Nemec, president of Bechtel Jacobs Co., will be in the last of five panels to testify. His company has a contract with DOE to manage waste at the plant and plan cleanup activities.

Also testifying will be David Sadler, DOE's acting deputy assistant secretary for oversight in the Office of Environment, Safety and Health. He is the senior manager of a two-phase investigation of current safety practices and sources of contamination that occurred prior to 1990.

The first phase of the investigation has been completed, and a preliminary report was made public earlier this week. A final report is due at the end of the month. The second phase won't be completed until next year.

Others scheduled to testify are plant workers Jim Key of Paducah, Chris Naas of Barlow, Randall Kepner of Kuttawa, D.R. Johnson of Paducah, Bill Pease of West Paducah, Mike Roberts of Paducah and Phillip Foley of Symsonia.

Also, retired worker Eugene Stallion of Wickliffe, DOE whistleblower Joe Carson of Oak Ridge, Tenn., McCracken County Judge-Executive Danny Orazine, DOE Paducah Site Manager Jimmie Hodges, USEC General Manager Howard Pulley, and Joseph Fitzgerald, DOE deputy assistant secretary for worker health and safety in the Office of Environment, Safety and Health.

Information from the hearing will be used to help senators decide funding priorities for removing hazardous waste from the plant, Bunning said.

Meanwhile, the postponed hearing by the House Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations has been rescheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday in room 2322 of the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington. Whitfield sits on the committee.

The hearing was to have been Thursday but was called off because of the threat of heavy wind and rain from Hurricane Floyd.