News and Music Discovery
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

DOE Sale of Uranium to Create Up to 1,200 Jobs at $1B Paducah Facility

Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has agreed to sell depleted uranium from the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant to enrich at a new state-of-the-art facility in western Kentucky. 

Construction and operation of the $1 billion facility by GE-Hitachi's Global Laser Enrichment is estimated to bring approximately 800 to 1,200 jobs to the local community. 

McCracken County Judge Executive Bob Leeper says there’s no word yet on exact numbers, but any employment gains will be all new jobs since the number of workers hired by cleanup contractor Fluor was about equal to that employed in the last days of the plant. 

“This is a bonus group of employment," said Leeper. "A lot is going to depend on when those jobs actually develop as the rest of this process has to take place.  But obviously any time you can have an announcement of 800 to 1,200 jobs, it’s a big day.” 

Credit U.S. Department of Energy

“What a great step forward for our Community, Region, and State with this project," said Paducah Economic Development President Scott Darnell. "We have a long way to go, but today’s announcement is a big step in getting this project to fruition." 

GE-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment will finance, construct and operate the Paducah Laser Enrichment Facility under a Nuclear Regulatory Commission license.  

GE Public Relations Manager Jon Allen says approximately 50-60 percent of the uranium at the new facility will come from 65,000 specialized storage cylinders at the Paducah Cylinder yards. The rest will come from DOE's Portsmouth, Ohio site. 

Credit US Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Map of Operating Power Plants in the U.S.

“The completion of this agreement is an important step forward for GLE,” said Bob Crate, GLE President and CEO. “Securing the right to acquire depleted uranium hexafluoride from the Department of Energy is a key factor in GLE’s plans to potentially license, construct and operate the Paducah laser enrichment facility.”

The Paducah plant was constructed in the 1950s to enrich uranium for national security applications, and later enriched uranium for commercial nuclear power generation. 

The DOE is currently deactivating the plant in preparation for decontamination and decommissioning, while it continues to complete environmental cleanup beginning in the 1980s.  That cleanup process includes groundwater remediation, inactive-facility demolition and conversion of depleted uranium to more stable forms for reuse or disposal.  

“This agreement furthers the Energy Department’s environmental cleanup mission while reducing cleanup costs, creating good local jobs, and supporting an economical enrichment enterprise for our energy needs,” says US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “The sale contributes to two key Energy Department mission areas – to fulfill the federal government’s responsibility to manage the safe storage and disposal of nuclear material and to enable nuclear power, America’s largest source of zero-carbon energy and an important enabler for reduced greenhouse gas emissions.” 

Rob Canning is a native of Murray, KY, a 2015 TV Production grad of Murray State. At MSU, he served as team captain of the Murray State Rowing Club. Rob's goal is to become a screenwriter, film director or producer and looks to the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie for inspiration. He appreciates good music, mainly favoring British rock n' roll, and approves of anything with Jack White's name on it. When not studying, rowing or writing, Rob enjoys spending his free time with a book or guitar.
Nicole Erwin is a Murray native and started working at WKMS during her time at Murray State University as a Psychology undergraduate student. Nicole left her job as a PTL dispatcher to join the newsroom after she was hired by former News Director Bryan Bartlett. Since, Nicole has completed a Masters in Sustainable Development from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia where she lived for 2 1/2 years.
Related Content