Conway floats the possibility of suing government if Paducah plant cleanup stalls

08/02/2013 06:23 PM

PADUCAH – Attorney General Jack Conway said Friday that he’s considering all options, including filing a lawsuit, to make sure the federal government follows through with cleaning up the nuclear material and the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion plant, which is at risk of being shuttered for good.

The financial problems of the company that operates the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion plant could endanger efforts to clean up the nuclear material in addition to the potential loss of 1,100 jobs.

The Department of Energy owns the plant, but it is currently operated by USEC, Inc. USEC has financial problems, and its future is in question. USEC recently announced that it was ending uranium enrichment at the plant because it could not reach of deal with the Department of Energy.

The concern is that the plant, which employs 1,100 workers, may be shuttered and that funds won’t be available to safely clean up the site.

“If the federal government does not live up to its legal obligation to clean up the site at Paducah or don’t meet the milestones, I intend, as chief legal officer of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, to take whatever action is necessary whatever it be, shaming them, filing a federal law suit or whatever to make them live up to their legal and moral obligation here in western Kentucky,” Conway said.

Conway, at a press conference Friday, outlined three reasons why he felt that it was important for him to be involved.

“One, I have a history dealing with the plant. Two, I have the responsibility to enforce environmental laws if i see that they are being broken. Three, I’ve talked to the governor and he understands my background here and he wants to utilize my office to bring any lawsuit or take any legal action that we need to take,” he said.

Conway met with Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman, who was designated as the point person on the Paducah plant by the Department of Energy.

“We are presenting a united front on behalf of Western Kentucky,” Conway said. “Former Vice President Alben Barkley helped bring this plant to Paducah, and Paducah has stood by the federal government for 60 years, helping produce energy for this country. It’s time now for the United States Government to stand by the people of Paducah and do what’s right.”

Currently, $142 million per year has been allocated for the cleanup. In addition, $35 million will be requested in the fiscal Year 2014 budget – bringing the total funding for cleanup to $177 million.

Conway has requested an accounting record of how the current $142 million per year for cleanup has been spent.


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