Conway Says If Necessary, He’ll Sue to Make Sure Feds Clean up Contamination at Paducah Plant

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway says he wants to make sure the federal government honors its obligations to clean up the contaminated Paducah Gaseous Diffusion plant.

The Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant has been a uranium enrichment plant for more than 60 years. It’s also a federal Superfund site, thanks to the contamination from said enrichment. And now, the plant’s operator has announced plans to begin shutting the site down.

It’s not known yet whether another company will step in to take over, but regardless, there’s a lot of cleanup to do. Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway said he’s been talking to the Department of Energy’s Deputy Secretary about the matter, and he’ll take whatever legal action is necessary to make sure the property is cleaned up.

“There’s a federal facilities agreement in place between the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the EPA and the Department of Energy,” Conway said. “It requires Paducah to be cleaned up and if the state needs to take legal action, we won’t be bashful about taking it and trying to make certain they live up to their obligations.”

That includes suing the Department of Energy, but Conway said that will be a last resort.

“But I hope it doesn’t get that far,” he said. “In my meeting with the Deputy Secretary, he indicated to me that the DOE felt that like they had both a moral and a historical obligation to Paducah and its people. They gave us an ironclad commitment that they wouldn’t be bringing in waste from other sites to be deposited at Paducah.”

The government has budged $142 million annually for Paducah’s cleanup…Conway says the Department of Energy is seeking to increase that amount by $35 million more, but he’s still worried the money will fall short.

Erica Peterson

Erica Peterson reports on energy and the environment for WFPL.

@ericampeterson

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