Kentucky May Sue Feds If They Walk From USEC Site
By Bill Hughes
PADUCAH, KY - Governor Steve Beshear and Attorney General Jack Conway look poised to take legal action against the U.S Department of Energy if they ignore their responsibilities at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.

Recent revelations that nuclear waste from the DOE plant in Ohio may now be at the Paducah site, coupled with the reluctance of the department to consider Expressions of Interest (EOI) in the site from outside companies, is leading some to believe the department is preparing to turn its back on the property, and simply use it for a nuclear waste storage facility.

Conway was part of a committee led by Gov. Paul Patton that worked in the late 1990's and early 2000's to increase funding for cleanup at the Paducah site, but after a change in Presidency, funding returned to earlier lower levels.

But Conway says Paducah is a Federal superfund site, which means there is a tri-party agreement between the DOE, EPA and the state of Kentucky. Conway says if the DOE does not comply with clean-up requirements in that contract, there is legal recourse.

Conway said his department is checking documents to determine if that involves arbitration, filing statements or a lawsuit, but he recently met with Gov. Beshear and shared his opinion.

"They have to clean that facility up. They're not going to leave a huge nuclear legacy there near Paducah, and then just shutter the plant, pay some contractor to lock it up, and keep it under key. And they're certainly, certainly not going to bring additional nuclear waste and use it as a dumping ground," Conway said.

He said the state is prepared to file a lawsuit or take whatever steps are necessary to hold the DOE accountable. He's also noticed an apparent double-standard.

"You know the Federal Government, they're awful good in a state like Kentucky where we have coal and low electricity rates, they're awfully good at trying to pass costs on to private industry and drive our costs up to achieve their goals, but when the clean-up is on their nickel, they don't want to do it, and I think that is hypocritical, and we're going to try to hold their feet to the fire," Conway said.

Beshear was in Paducah Tuesday, and said Paducah's community action group and state government are going to stay on top of the situation. His two priorities are to find a way to keep the site operating in some way to keep jobs there, and to make sure that the DOE fulfills its commitment to clean the site as they shut down operation. This will increase the possibility of another company's eventual use of the property.

Beshear said,"I'm going up on Monday, July 8 to meet with the new Secretary of Energy Moniz, and I want to find out what their thinking is on what the future of this plant is. I want a commitment from them to clean this place up. I want a commitment from them to move their RFP (Request for Proposals) process forward to get another company in here to work for a while and create jobs. And you know, if we don't get their attention by talking, then the Attorney General and I are determined to get their attention in another way, so stay tuned."

The two Kentucky Democrats are using strong language about a federal government that is currently being run by the same party, so this action (or inaction) by the DOE appears to have struck a nerve.

Published 12:17 AM, Wednesday Jun. 26, 2013
Updated 02:07 PM, Thursday Jun. 27, 2013

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