The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Tuesday, January 9, 2001
Paducah, Kentucky

Leaking water probed at plant
The Paducah site had burst pipes in two unused buildings with 'a fair amount of contamination.' Some water leaked to the outside.

By Bill Bartleman
Tests are under way to determine if water that leaked from two Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant buildings was contaminated with chemicals or minor levels of radioactive material.

About 100,000 gallons leaked after water pipes burst in the C-410 and C-420 buildings, said Greg Cook, spokesman for Bechtel Jacobs Co., which manages the plant's environmental cleanup. The buildings, which have been decommissioned, were once used to process materials used in the production of enriched uranium.

The leaks were discovered at 2:56 a.m. Monday after a transformer in one of the buildings malfunctioned when it became wet, Cook said. The power outage was confined to the buildings, a few street lights and an alarm system protected by a battery backup. He said no one works in the building, but monitoring equipment inside is checked regularly.

The pipes contained potable water. However, Cook said "there is a fair amount of contamination in the buildings," including an old ash receiver pit. He said water samples are being tested to see if the water became contaminated.

"The last time we had a water leak (in October), we found some PCBs in the water," Cook said.

Cook said a small amount of water leaked out of the building through doors and other openings. However, he said none of it left the plant and that there was no danger to the public or plant workers.

"The building was checked on Friday, and everything was OK," Cook said. He said officials aren't sure of the cause of the broken pipes, but he speculated they might have frozen.

After testing is completed, officials will decide how to remove the spilled water, Cook said.