The baler was so much trouble that work got far behind schedule. The new procedure begins today.
By Bill Bartleman firstname.lastname@example.org
The faulty baler being used in cleaning up "drum mountain" at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant has been scrapped.
Baler problems have put the $7 million cleanup of 80,000 rusted and contaminated drums seriously behind the U.S. Department of Energy's schedule to have it removed by the end of the year. Work started six weeks ago. By now, 70 percent of the drums were to have been removed, but at the end of last week only 30 percent had been removed.
Officials hope a new plan being implemented today will get the work back on schedule, said Greg Cook, spokesman for Bechtel Jacobs Co., holder of the cleanup contract.
The new plan is to operate two assembly lines, increase the number of employees and work longer hours.
The baler was removed from the single assembly line set up when work began in June. The scrap material will be taken directly from a shredder and placed in containers that will be shipped to a hazardous waste dump in Utah. That change increases the number of containers required.
"They have done everything they can think of to get the baler working and have given up on it," Cook said.
"It has just been one thing after another."
A second assembly line that includes a different brand of shredder and baler is expected to go into operation today.
Bechtel Jacobs subcontracted the cleanup work to USEC Inc., the company that operates the uranium enrichment production facility.