Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul and Congressman Ed Whitfield on Tuesday met with Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Assistant Secretary Daniel Poneman to discuss the long term future of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.
Still reeling from the DOE’s recent announcement not to extend the United States Enrichment Corporation’s (USEC) operation, the delegation, stressed the importance of DOE's commitment to cleanup and utilizing the tails and other assets located in Paducah to secure a long term future for the site.
“The Department of Energy must act quickly to maximize long term job retention and job growth in Paducah, and we will continue to do all we can to ensure that happens,” stated McConnell, Paul and Whitfield. “There is significant private sector interest for utilizing the site’s assets in Paducah, so any plan by the DOE to ship the tails out of the area is unacceptable to us.”
The plant opened in 1952 to develop enriched uranium for military reactors and to produce nuclear weapons. The plant began selling uranium for commercial reactors in the 1960s, and has been operated since the late 1990s by Bethesda, Md.,-based USEC.
Soft demand for enriched uranium, stemming partly from the disaster in Japan when a tsunami crippled a nuclear plant, coupled with steep production costs triggered the decision, according to USEC.