The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Paducah, Kentucky
Thursday, February 21, 2002

PACRO, L.A. firm to bid on flourine job
The reuse group has worked out a deal with ToxCo to remove 70 flourine cells. The company still must present its bid to DOE.

By Joe Walker

The Paducah Area Community Reuse Organization and a California firm will bid on fluorine removal work expected to save $2.5 million in federal cleanup costs at the Paducah uranium enrichment plant.

PACRO's executive committee approved a deal Wednesday to sell $75,000 in brokerage services to help Los Angeles-based ToxCo remove 70 discarded fluorine cells from the plant for sale or use elsewhere.

ToxCo will have to bid on the work with the Department of Energy, and if successful, would buy the cells from DOE for a price taking into account ToxCo’s considerable expense of cleaning up the cells.

While contributing to the cleanup, "It also shows we're meeting our goals so we can get some additional money to use, whether it be for the regional industrial park or help our other programs to diversify economic development," said PACRO Chairman Ric Ladt.

PACRO, which receives Department of Energy funding to help offset plant job losses, is seeking $10 million in federal money to help develop the regional park in north Graves County.

Although Congress has not approved the funding, U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning on Wednesday pledged his support, joining other members of the Kentucky congressional delegation who have given their backing.

"I wouldn't promise you anything," Bunning said. "All I can tell you is we can put the request in and push for it."

As an option, PACRO Director John Anderson said, the group is seeking part of $7 million set aside by DOE's Office of Worker and Community Transition for projects such as the park. The office funds community reuse organizations nationwide.

The $10 million is needed over three years toward buying and developing 1,500 acres, said Bill Beasley, general manager of the park authority. He said 1,100 acres are already under three-year options with landowners or oral agreements for options. The authority also has asked the state legislature for $10 million.

PACRO had wanted ToxCo to build a job-creating fluorine conversion facility near the plant, but company officials said too few of the cells were useful to justify the extensive cost. David Eaker, ToxCo vice president of metals, said the cells would be decontaminated at a company facility in Tennessee before going to Ozark Fluorine Specialties, a ToxCo subsidiary in Tulsa, Okla.

PACRO also has been negotiating with a Canadian firm, Chemical Vapor Deposition Manufacturing, about recycling some of the plant's 9,700 tons of contaminated scrap metal. PACRO wants help from the Kentucky delegation to secure a meeting with Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham to discuss lifting a ban on the sale of radioactive scrap metal at all DOE plants because of safety concerns.

The reuse group is working with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory on a process to clean up the metal to make it safe for commercial use.

"If we can do that successfully, then we can sell off those assets and we'd have an awful fast cleanup at Paducah," Bunning said. "It's my gut feeling that the moratorium for doing that is going to come off in this administration. It might be very shortly."