The Paducah Sun

October 22, 1999

Patton to ask Senate panel for plant clean-up increase

By Bill Bartleman
The Paducah Sun

Gov. Paul Patton will make a formal plea to Congress next week to increase funding to clean up contamination at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.

Patton is one of 11 people scheduled to testify Tuesday before the Energy and Water Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee. U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Louisville, will chair the hearing that will examine the extent, cost and priorities of cleanup.

The hearing will begin at 9:30 a.m. EDT in room 124 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Last month, Patton met with McConnell, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson and President Clinton's budget staff to ask that funding be increased to at least $100 million a year for the next 10 years. The funding for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1 is about $60 million.

Without an increase in funding, Patton said, the goal of cleaning up radioactive and chemical contamination by 2010 will not be met. The state Cabinet for Natural Resources has regulatory authority over the plant and cleanup activities.

U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Southgate, and U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Hopkinsville, also are scheduled to testify. Both were part of earlier congressional hearings into plant activities.

Others on the witness list are David Fuller, president of the plant's atomic workers union; Dr. Steve Markowitz, the lead physician in a study that is evaluating work-related illnesses at the plant, and Dr. Richard Bird Jr., who recently completed an exposure study of workers at DOE's facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Testimony also is expected from Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary for DOE's environmental, health and safety program; Carolyn Huntoon, assistant secretary of DOE's Office of Environmental Management; Bill Magwood, director of DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy; James Bickford, secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Natural Resources, and Richard Green, Region IV director of the federal EPA office in Atlanta.