EDITOR: I would like to respond to your July 16 editorial on the Department of Energy's new recycling policy and its efforts to clean up the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.
First, the Department of Energy's commitment to cleaning up the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant is evidenced by Energy Secretary Bill Richardson's near doubling of the budget request for cleanup at Paducah over two years. This $36 million increase — which includes an $8 million supplemental appropriation just approved by Congress — will enable the department to accelerate the cleanup. In addition, the secretary has boosted funding from $1 million to $6 million for exposure assessments and medical surveillance of current and former workers for the three gaseous diffusion plants, including Paducah.
Furthermore, the department is deploying five new technologies for tracking contamination, treating contaminated groundwater and removing sources of contamination. We are also conducting medical monitoring through the University of Utah for current and former workers at the site. We have provided clean water to local residents and started removal of Drum Mountain, which should be completed by year end.
Finally, new procedures for monitoring potentially contaminated metal will prevent any unwanted release of radioactive contamination at Paducah or any other DOE site while allowing recycling to safely resume early next year. Since Paducah has no plans to release these metals through the end of this year, the cleanup is proceeding uninterrupted. When these new procedures are finalized, they will be incorporated into our cleanup operations at Paducah.
Our goals at Paducah have been to increase funding in order to accelerate cleanup and to address worker health concerns with the help of the state and community. The record shows that we are meeting these important goals.
Paducah Site Office
Department of Energy