The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Paducah, Kentucky
Thursday, August 01, 2002

Whitfield says DOE cleanup a priority

By Matt Sanders

In a year plagued by economic uncertainty and global unrest, one of U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield's biggest concerns has been the inability of the U.S. Department of Energy and Kentucky leaders to reach an agreement for accelerated cleanup at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, he said.

Whitfield, R-Hopkinsville, spoke Wednesday at the Rotary Club of Paducah.

A deadline of today had been set for states, including Kentucky, to qualify for extra funding under a program that would refocus attention on eliminating waste that poses a threat to the environment. That deadline has since been relaxed.

“An agreement needs to be reached, or Kentucky runs the risk of losing money that will clean up the plant,” Whitfield said.

A Senate appropriations bill calls for Paducah to receive $134 million in cleanup funds next year, and a House bill calls for about $100 million.

Whitfield also urged elected officials and leaders in the business, tourism and civic communities to continue working together to bring new jobs to the area.

When he worked with CSX Railroad, Whitfield said he met with Saturn automotive executives when they selected Spring Hill, Tenn., as the plant site. Spring Hill is near a CSX rail line. Whitfield asked the executives if they had considered Hopkinsville, and they said it was a divided community, where city, county and industrial leaders did not work together.

“That is not a problem in Paducah,” Whitfield said. “Manufacturers will not see that kind of division here.”

He praised local leaders for several unified efforts, including the development of a regional industrial park in northern Graves County to recruit a major manufacturer, which would draw its work force from all Purchase counties, and attempts to land a new uranium enrichment plant that uses centrifuge technology. The enrichment plant will be located in either Paducah or Piketon, Ohio.

“Ohio will do everything it can to get that plant,” Whitfield said. “But I know Paducah and Kentucky have everything together.”