The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Paducah, Kentucky
Saturday, July 27, 2002

Patton to discuss new DOE plant
The governor will brief Paducah leaders on the state's efforts to attract the $1 billion plant on Friday.

By Bill Bartleman

Gov. Paul Patton will meet with Paducah community leaders Friday to discuss issues related to the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.

One major topic will be state efforts to attract a $1 billion enrichment plant to replace the Paducah plant, which has been operating for 50 years. Paducah and Portsmouth, Ohio, are competing for the new plant, which will use the more economical gas centrifuge technology.

Patton also will offer a briefing on negotiations among the state, the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to accelerate cleanup of contamination at the plant and surrounding DOE property.

The meeting will be at 10:30 a.m. at the Julian Carroll Convention Center. Gene Strong, secretary of the state Economic Development Cabinet, and James Bickford, secretary of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet, will accompany Patton

The state is preparing an incentive package that will be given to USEC Inc. in an effort to attract the plant. The package will be submitted later this year, after which USEC is expected to pick a site and begin planning and designing the new plant. The new plant would be in operation by either 2010 or 2011, after which the existing plant would be closed.

Critt Luallen, secretary of the governor's cabinet, said DOE, EPA and state officials met again Thursday to seek an agreement on DOE's plan to speed cleanup so that it is completed faster and more cheaply than the current schedule, which calls for work to be done in about 20 years.

State officials are reviewing revised plans to make sure environmental safety isn't compromised.

Thursday's meeting in Frankfort was the first to include top-level officials involved in the cleanup. Attending were Jessie Roberson, DOE assistant secretary for environmental management, and James Palmer, EPA director of Region 4.

"We made significant progress on some issues," said Mark York, spokesman for the state Natural Resources Cabinet. "We still have some matters to iron out, but everyone involved made a commitment to continue meeting and getting the issues resolved."

At stake is $134 million for cleanup for fiscal year 2003, which begins Oct. 1. The Aug. 1 deadline for reaching an agreement has been moved back because of a U.S. Senate committee's action to earmark extra cleanup funds for specific sites rather than allowing DOE to decide how the money is used.

York said Roberson also said she plans to visit Paducah soon, but no date was given.

DOE officials in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Washington would not discuss the visit, except to say that it will not be a public event.