The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Sunday, October 08, 2000
Paducah, Kentucky

Clinton vetoes bill aiding DOE site workers' health
Paducah cleanup and other funds were in the bill, as well as money for Kentucky Dam and Olmsted dam and lock projects.

From staff and wire reports

WASHINGTON--President Clinton vetoed a $23.6 billion energy and water spending bill Saturday that called 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.

Clinton rejected the bill, saying it poses environmental harm by blocking his plans to let the Missouri River ebb and flow with the seasons.

Included in the legislation was $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.

It included 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.

The measure for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1 had passed the House, 301-118, and the Senate, 57-37, but the latter vote would fall short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto.

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

In a statement, Clinton said a rider attached to the overall bill jeopardizes the survival of three threatened and endangered species.

‘‘It would also establish a dangerous precedent aimed at barring a federal agency from obeying one of our nation’s landmark environmental statutes,’’ he said.

The president also complained that the overall bill is larded with ‘‘scores of special projects for special interests.’’

And he said Congress failed to include enough money for a long list of priority concerns, including the environmental restoration of the Florida Everglades, the California-Bay Delta initiative and a plan to restore endangered salmon in the Pacific Northwest.

‘‘It also failed to fund efforts to research and develop non-polluting sources of energy through solar and renewable technologies that are vital to America’s energy security,’’ he said.

‘‘I urge Congress to quickly produce an energy-water bill I can sign,’’ Clinton said.

Veto ...

By Joe Walker

Sun Business Editor

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.