The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Wednesday, May 10, 2000
Paducah, Kentucky

Cleanup, health funds grow at Paducah site

By Joe Walker

Sen. Mitch McConnell says he has secured another $26 million in Senate appropriations to hasten cleanup at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant and expand worker health testing.

The money includes $16 million from the Senate Agriculture Appropriations bill to accelerate cleanup at the Paducah plant and its sister plant near Portsmouth, Ohio. Paducah's share is $8 million to remove contaminated materials from the site, he said.

"We have seen in recent weeks the lack of commitment by the Department of Energy to clean up its environmental nightmare at (the plant)," McConnell said. "Today (Tuesday) I persuaded the Senate Appropriations Committee to provide the necessary funds to get DOE back on track and accelerate cleanup at the Paducah site."

McConnell said he also secured $10 million for expanded worker health testing. The money, which comes from the Senate Military Construction Appropriations bill, allows DOE to expand health testing for current and former workers at the plant, and screen workers for lung cancer, he said.

"The health and safety of the workers at the Paducah plant should be our first priority," McConnell said. "I worked hard to get this funding, and now it's up to the DOE to address the medical, health and safety concerns of the workers who have worked under hazardous conditions as a result of DOE's inadequate safety protections."

The $26 million was part of supplemental appropriations for this fiscal year. Of that amount, $16 million was included as an amendment to the agriculture bill and $10 million as an amendment to the military construction bill.

Both bills are expected to be considered by the full Senate before the end of May. Assuming the bills pass, funding will be available when President Clinton signs them into law, McConnell said.