The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Tuesday, October 03, 2000
Paducah, Kentucky

DOE site aid bill in hands of president
The massive energy measure includes health programs at the Paducah plant, as well as lock and dam projects.

By Joe Walker
Congress has submitted legislation to President Clinton calling for more than $100 million for environmental and worker health programs at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant and $86 million to continue the Kentucky Dam and Olmsted lock and dam projects.

On Monday, the Senate voted 57-37 to give final approval to the massive 2001 Energy and Water Development Appropriation Act.

Included in the legislation is $30 million to continue construction of a new 1,200-foot lock at Kentucky Dam and $56 million toward ongoing construction of Olmsted Lock and Dam.

The legislation was supported by Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Hopkinsville, and Sens. Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning.

It includes this funding for the plant: $90 million for Department of Energy environmental cleanup work; $34 million shared by Paducah and its sister plant near Portsmouth, Ohio, to maintain nearly 60,000 cylinders of spent uranium hexafluoride and build facilities at each plant to convert the hazardous material into something safer; $4.3 million for worker health and safety programs, including testing and monitoring of past and present workers at the plant; $1.75 million for an epidemiological study of workers by research specialists from medical schools at the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville; and $3 million for programs to help displaced plant workers.

"I urge the president to sign this bill so DOE can continue cleaning up its environmental nightmare at the Paducah plant," McConnell said. "This funding also will allow all workers, past and present, to get the health testing they deserve."

The Senate Conference Committee approved McConnell's request to transfer all uranium cleanup activities from DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy to the Office of Environmental Management. McConnell said merging the activities will make the work more efficient.