The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Paducah, Kentucky
Saturday, May 11, 2002

Bunning DOE safety amendment approved

The Senate Armed Services Committee has approved an amendment to improve worker health and safety at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant and other Department of Energy nuclear facilities.

Offered by Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Southgate, the amendment was approved Thursday night as part of the 2003 Defense Authorization Bill. It now goes to the Senate floor.

Although there are Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards for industrial and construction work at commercial sites, there are no such standards for DOE facilities, Bunning said. His bill would make DOE regulations enforceable by placing similar OSHA requirements on DOE contractors.

"It makes no sense to me as to why DOE's health and safety standards are not legally enforceable at the Paducah plant," Bunning said. "Worker health and safety should not be any less a worry at DOE sites than at commercial sites."

Leon Owens, president of the Paducah plant's energy workers' union, called the amendment "very significant," because for the first time, plant contractors would be held accountable for OSHA standards. He said the measure was opposed by DOE and not fully supported by the Bush administration.