The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Paducah, Kentucky
Sunday, October 12, 2003

Conversion plant construction to involve local businesses

By Joe Walker

Conversion of 38,000 cylinders of hazardous waste at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant into safer material is expected to generate hundreds of jobs and $60 million in business over the next 20 years or more.

"We want to start in Paducah and work out, rather than bring in a bunch of outside construction work," said Marion Mitchell, head of procurement for Uranium Disposition Services, a conversion company. "Our commitment is to support the local and regional businesses first."

Design, construction and operation of a conversion plant will involve some large companies, but UDS says small businesses and business classified as disadvantaged could qualify for $24 million in work at Paducah and Piketon, Ohio, where a similar plant will be built.

Supplying personal protective equipment is an example of small-business opportunity, Mitchell said, adding there are strict qualifications because the conversion plant will go up on Department of Energy land in front of the diffusion plant.

Based in Oak Ridge, Tenn., UDS is inviting 300 to 500 firms within roughly 100 miles of Paducah to a meeting Oct. 30 at J.R.'s Executive Inn to talk about opportunities for subcontract work, goods and services. The meeting, in International Rooms C and D, will last from 8:30 a.m. until 2:15 p.m.

From extensive profiles gained at the meeting, UDS will identify lists of potential contractors and opportunities for small and disadvantaged businesses.

Conversion plant construction here will generate 100-150 jobs. Work is scheduled to start in the spring and take two years. Operations will begin about March 2006 and last 20 to 25 years, long enough to recycle cylinders of spent uranium hexafluoride (UF6) stored at the Paducah plant. There will be about 150 operational jobs.

Early work will involve clearing land, running underground utilities and building a foundation on land across the diffusion plant entrance road from the Department of Energy Site Office.

At least three metal or pre-cast buildings for administration, warehousing/receiving and conversion will be erected, so there will be a need for structural, plumbing, electrical and mechanical trades, drywallers, painters and carpet installers, Mitchell said.

"The last work that will be done will be the conversion building," he said. "Everything else will kind of be in stages."

Supplies include office materials, pumps, valves, instruments, electrical parts and equipment, and 13 large tanks. All but the tanks probably will come from firms with a local or regional presence, he said.

Congress mandated the project in 1998 to get rid of the cylinders, which contain waste resembling rock salt from uranium enrichment. The Energy Department hopes to find commercial uses for fluorine and other parts of the material. DOE has estimated the cost of building and running the Paducah plant for 20 years at $500 million.

Repeated delays since 1998 hit another snag this summer when the Energy Department missed a deadline to approve the start of preliminary design. Mitchell said preliminary design is under way, now that "all of those hurdles got out of the way."

The UDS contract lasts until 2011, but could be renewed. There are enough cylinders for UDS or another firm to run the conversion plant for at least 20 years, meaning the project will have lasting economic benefits for the Paducah area, Mitchell said.

"It will continue whether UDS is there or not," he said. "In order to succeed, we're going to need the community's participation and support because it is an aggressive schedule."

'We want to start in Paducah and work out, rather than bring

in a bunch of outside construction work. Our commitment

is to support the local and regional businesses first.'

| Marion Mitchell

Uranium Disposition Services

UDS subcontract opportunities

Design 2003: Engineering, plan and procedure development, program support.

Construction 2004-2006: Site work, utilities, heating and air, building trades, landscaping, process equipment installation, operation and management.

Operation 2006-2010: Safety analysis, operational readiness, training, security and fire protection, transportation, medical, financial services, regulatory compliance, cylinder care, waste disposal, computer support.

Various goods and services: Backfill materials, concrete, office supplies and services, hardware, material transport and disposal, health and safety, lab analysis, construction equipment maintenance, quality assurance, propane tanks, diesel generators, loading systems, rental equipment, surveying, temporary services.