DOE Uranium Sale Could Mean 1,200 New Paducah Jobs
By West Kentucky Star Staff
PADUCAH, KY - Plans to build a $1 billion enrichment facility in McCracken County that could ultimately create more than 1,000 new jobs may be one step closer to becoming a reality.
The Department of Energy says it has agreed to sell depleted uranium to GE-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment, LLC over a 40-year period. GLE is evaluating plans to build a facility to process the material into natural uranium near the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant. The construction and operation of the facility could create an estimated 800 to 1,200 jobs, according to officials. Natural uranium is used for production of fuel for nuclear reactors.
"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," said 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."
The Paducah plant was constructed in the 1950s to enrich uranium for use in nuclear weapons, and later enriched uranium for nuclear power generation. The Energy Department resumed control of the plant enrichment facilities in 2014 after the operator ceased gaseous-diffusion enrichment operations in 2013.
“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.”
“What a great step forward for our Community, Region, and State with this project. We have a long way to go, but today’s announcement is a big step in getting this project to fruition. We look forward to sharing more information in the near future regarding this project and are very appreciative of all the support from our Federal, State, and Local delegations to get this project moving. The Department of Energy’s staff puts our citizens and our community as a priority and we are thankful for their support”. said Scott Darnell, President/CEO, Paducah Economic Development.
Stan Eckenberg, Chair of Paducah Economic Development said, “Today, we saw another important example of what partnerships can do for our community. PED staff and our public, private partners have spent the past 2 years building stronger relationships with our Congressional Staffs and the Department of Energy to get this project moving forward again. I cannot stress enough how strong our partnership is with Department of Energy, Contractors, and others at the PGDP”