The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Paducah, Kentucky
Friday, December 06, 2002

More Paducah jobs expected if DOE recycles nickel

By Bill Bartleman bbartleman@paducahsun.com--270.575.8650

Seven firms attended a meeting to discuss procedures for soliciting proposals, and were said to show great interest.

Paducah could be the home for several industries if the U.S. Department of Energy accepts proposals for recycling more than 13,000 tons of scrap nickel stored in Paducah and Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Seven firms were represented in Oak Ridge Thursday at a meeting to discuss DOE procedures for soliciting proposals. "They've shown quite a bit of interest," said Vince Adams, director of the Facilities and Materials Reuse Division for DOE's Oak Ridge operation. "We will allow them to continue asking questions through the end of December. We hope to have our request for proposal ready by March and make an award sometime in May."

With an estimated 9,600 tons of nickel stored at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, it is probable that a major portion of the recycling work will be done in Paducah. Previous estimates were that the recycling alone could create 50 or more jobs for at least 25 years.

The Paducah Area Community Resource Organization (PACRO) has lobbied DOE to make sure Paducah benefits from the recycling. PACRO helps find jobs locally for workers displaced at the gaseous diffusion plant. Officials here believe a recycling operation could attract related plants that would use the product.

DOE will receive some of the profits from recycling. Although Adams said he didn't know how much DOE could earn, previous estimates cited $10 million or more.

The recycled nickel, with low levels of radioactive contamination, can be used only in the commercial nuclear industry or for government purposes. A moratorium based on health risk concern bans it from consumer products.

Two suggestions for its use were to build turbine fans and heat exchangers for nuclear power plants.

Officials here hope to show that the nickel can be cleaned and used for purposes such as in the manufacture of batteries, said PACRO member Henry Hodges, director of the Purchase Area Development District.

When recycling nickel was discussed two years ago, some DOE officials favored shipping the nickel from Paducah to Oak Ridge where a recycling plant already operates.

But that plant closed, and PACRO says DOE now supports Paducah as an operating site.