The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Paducah, Kentucky
Saturday, November 16, 2002

McConnell, others helped plant workers obtain compensation


EDITOR:

I have read the letter to the editor from Mark Donham saying the truth was distorted by Sen. McConnell. All the things that people working at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant were subjected to as brought to light for the first time in September1999 by Energy Secretary Bill Richardson astounded me and most everyone else who ever worked at the plant. Until that time everything was kept in secret. It was quite a blessing to the former and current workers to receive this information.

I worked at the plant for 41 years, and in my first 16 years worked all over the plant and investigated every building on the plant site, never knowing what I was subjected to. We were sworn to never tell anyone about the work and what we knew about the plant.

I met with Secretary Richardson when he made it known about all the substances and atrocities the workers were exposed to. What a shock.

I have and will always appreciate the efforts Sens. McConnell and Bunning and Congressman Whitfield made to see that compensation was made available for those workers who were injured by being exposed to these substances. It is a fact that to bring legislation before Congress takes time and effort. Energy Secretary Richardson had no power whatsoever to compensate workers. This was a combination effort on the part of our representatives.

I have personally met with both U.S. senators and the congressman and can really appreciate all the efforts put forth by all of them. I also was in contact with attorneys and reporters from the Washington Post and know that information was solicited and received and considered from a minimum of 100 former workers.

If Mr. Donham had ever worked at the plant, especially in the early days, he would also be astounded by all the atrocities he may have been exposed to himself.

If conditions from an environmentalist point of view were perfect, we would have no need for our senators and congresspersons to fight our battles. These men have all done a splendid job for us, their voting public.

Again, Mr. Donham, being the intelligent man that you are, you place yourself in a petty position of questioning political slogans. Since you never worked at the plant and were never subjected to the many substances we were (subjected to), your comments about Sen. McConnell are offensive to me and others who worked there.

JIM CHESNUT

Paducah