The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Paducah, Kentucky

New task force charged with plant concerns

By Anne Thrower
athrower@paducahsun.com
270.575.8653

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Seven people with technical expertise about the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant and surrounding area were introduced Monday as the new task force that will help the community address future issues at the plant.

“There are a lot of issues the community needs to be involved in,’ McCracken County Judge-Executive Danny Orazine said. Those issues include the U.S. Department of Energy cleanup work and the millions of dollars of assets in the form of nickel and aluminum at the plant that could potentially provide revenue to the community, Orazine said. “They will help determine how the community can get their hands on those assets.’

Another issue is the future use of the plant site as a possible industrial area. “They will set their own agenda,’ Orazine said.

The task force includes the current USEC plant manager, Steve Penrod, and the current director of field services, Charlie Martin. John Anderson, director of the Paducah Area Community Reuse Organization, will serve as staff support for the group.

Others in the group are Ray Daily, director of environmental affairs at NewPage; Jimmie Hodges, former site manager for the Department of Energy at the plant; Howard Pulley, former USEC general manager; and Henry Hodges, director of the Purchase Area Development District.

All the men are volunteering their expertise, Orazine said. Also serving on the committee are Orazine and Paducah Mayor Bill Paxton.

It´s not the first task force to be appointed to address issues at the plant. A task force comprised of community leaders was formed several years ago when Paducah was competing with the USEC plant in Piketon, Ohio, to build a more efficient gas centrifuge plant.

After USEC officials announced it planned to replace the outdated Paducah plant with the Ohio plant starting in 2010, the task force no longer had an agenda. “We thought it was best to form another task force,’ Orazine said.

In other business, Jailer Bill Adams told the fiscal court that the state wants the jail to provide inmates with a change of uniforms twice a week instead of once a week. The additional uniforms would cost the county about $35,000 annually.

Adams said McCracken County is the only jail in the state under such an order, so he is appealing the request. “Jail standards don´t call for that,’ he said.

Adams also said the jail peaked at 480 inmates on Friday, causing jail officials to have to release some weekend-only inmates to make room for the new arrests. The jail population was down to 460 by Monday.

“It´s a growing issue,’ Adams said. While other jails in the area book three or four new inmates daily, in McCracken County the average number of bookings daily is 21, he said.