The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Paducah, Kentucky
Sunday, February 02, 2003

Paducah, Piketon cleanup work may be split from Oak Ridge
Lawmakers feelthe smaller projects have often been lost in the Oak Ridge bureaucracy. Bechtel Jacobs now covers all three.

By Bill Bartleman bbartleman@paducahsun.com--270.575.8650

The U.S. Department of Energy is reviewing its options on whether to continue its contract with Bechtel Jacobs Co., which for five years has supervised the cleanup at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.

The current contract expires Sept. 30 and allows for renewal of one to five years. So far, DOE has not notified Bechtel Jacobs on the future of the contract, which also covers cleanup at DOE sites in Piketon, Ohio, and Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Bechtel Jacobs oversees more than $800 million worth of cleanup annually, of which $500 million is in Oak Ridge and $150 million each in Paducah and Piketon.

More than 600 people are employed for subcontractors in Paducah.

DOE is considering dividing the work into two contracts, one covering Oak Ridge and the other covering Paducah and Piketon.

DOE officials in Washington and Oak Ridge would not discuss their options but released a statement through spokesman Walter Perry:

"The Department of Energy is reviewing options we have to accomplish environmental cleanup work at the Paducah site. While looking at the best way to get the job done, we don't want to speculate on any final decision because one has not yet been determined."

Dividing the work into two contracts would follow requests from Kentucky congressmen to remove the Paducah and Piketon sites from management by DOE's Oak Ridge Operations.

U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning and others insist on a new office that would answer directly to Washington. Bunning has been concerned that needs in the Paducah and Piketon operations have often been lost in the Oak Ridge bureaucracy.

Current plans are to open an office in Lexington, which is approximately midway between the two sites.

Bechtel Jacobs has already submitted new proposals to DOE for dividing the work into two contracts, according to spokesman Greg Cook.

DOE also has indicated it could seek proposals from other firms to oversee the work in Paducah and Piketon.

Paducah Mayor Bill Paxton said he has no inside knowledge about DOE's plans for Bechtel Jacobs, but said he's aware that other firms have an interest in taking over the work. Paxton said Bechtel Jacobs "has been a good corporate citizen" and has donated thousands of dollars to community projects and programs.

Two firms considering submitting proposals are Westkem, an Oak Ridge-based company that already is doing work in Paducah, and SAIC, a San Diego-based firm also involved in cleanup here.