The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Paducah, Kentucky
Sunday, January 04, 2004

Plants neighbors assess next step in land damage ruling

Staff Report

West Paducah residents claiming land devaluation against Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant operators said they will discuss their options with their attorney after their lawsuit was dismissed in federal court.

It was the only case alleging land devaluation among several lawsuits filed in recent years claiming contamination by the nuclear plant.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Mc- Kinley granted a motion to dismiss the case Friday by lawyers defending former plant operators Union Carbide and Lockheed Martin. Both operators had denied the allegations.

The suit was filed in January 1997 by Warren Smith of Ogden Landing Road and Glenda, Jack and Joey Wray, all of Metropolis Lake Road, on behalf of about 135 people owning 82 pieces of land within a 10-mile radius of the plant.

Neither Smith nor Glenda Wray had been informed of the ruling when contacted Saturday morning for comment. Both planned to talk with Paducah attorney Jim Owens, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the neighbors, later in the day and referred other comments to him.

Owens was out of town and not available for comment Saturday.

In his ruling, McKinley said there was no proof that the levels of contamination were sufficient to pose a health hazard.

All plaintiffs live on property under which contaminated groundwater has spread and has been devalued by uranium enrichment work at the plant, the suit claimed. They also alleged they lost the use of their property and suffered loss to plants, crops, livestock and wildlife. They also claimed plant operators were negligent in allowing contaminants to spread beyond the facility’s boundary and in doing so trespassed on the plaintiffs’ property.

The plaintiffs had sought damages of more than $75,000. A trial was to begin Jan. 12.

Other lawsuits against the plant have alleged plant-related diseases or — in the case of an ongoing whistleblowers’ suit — that the plant defrauded the government by concealing contamination.