The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Paducah, Kentucky
Saturday, August 18, 2001

Paducah plant workers discover old tank; tests to see if it only holds oil
Removal will take a week or so if it's an old oil storage tank longer if it contains a hazardous chemical.

By Bill Bartleman

Workers digging to expand the depleted uranium cylinder storage yard at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant have found an underground storage tank that may contain waste oil from the plant's construction days 50 years ago.

State environmental regulators were notified, and plans are being made to remove the tank, said Gordon Dover, projects manager for Bechtel Jacobs, the environmental contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy.

"There's been a lot of construction rubble where they've been digging to put in the concrete pad, and they came across a concrete collar that had pipes in it," Dover said. "They looked further and found an underground tank that was put in when the plant was built in 1952 or 53." The tank was unearthed Thursday.

The storage yard is on a site that was the atomic plant construction staging area, which is why considerable construction rubble is present.

"The substance in the tank is a black, oily substance that looks like waste oil," Dover said. "We don't know if it is filled with oil, or filled with water with some petroleum substance on the top."

Samples were taken, Dover said, and if it is oil, by following state regulations for removal of old storage tanks it can be removed in a week or so. If the substance is a hazardous chemical or contains such hazards, removal will be slower.

It appears only a small amount of the substance "about a gallon or two" has leaked, Dover said.

The cylinder yard is being built as part of an ongoing project to increase the storage area for about 36,000 cylinders of depleted uranium that was used in the production of nuclear fuel.