The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Saturday, September 09, 2000
Paducah, Kentucky

Senate pushes DOE site cleanup funds
Two area lock and dam projects are also in the bill, as well as extending Paducah plant lung screening.

By Joe Walker
Legislation containing nearly $160 million for cleanup of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant and two area lock and dam projects passed the Senate on Friday and is headed to a conference panel to resolve differences with the House version.

The funding, part of the 2001 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill, includes $78 million for environmental work at the gaseous diffusion plant, $27.7 million to expand the Kentucky Lock at Gilbertsville, and $53.1 million for continued construction of the Olmsted Lock and Dam.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Louisville, said the bill includes his request for $33 million for new facilities to convert nearly 60,000 cylinders of uranium hexafluoride waste at the Paducah plant and its sister plant near Portsmouth, Ohio, into safer material. The funding is $9 million more than requested by the Department of Energy and would go toward having the facilities completed by 2004, he said.

The bill also contains $1.75 million for the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky School of Public Health for epidemiological studies of workers at the Paducah plant.

McConnell inserted language urging DOE to extend its current screening for early detection of lung diseases until all Paducah plant workers and former workers are tested. The project is in the fourth year of a five-year contract and will fall short without the extension, he said.

McConnell and Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Southgate, said the bill has funding for many river transportation needs, notably the two lock and dam projects.