DOE will not extend contract with USEC beyond May 31, layoffs to begin in August
PADUCAH, Ky. - The U.S. Department of Energy says it will not offer an extension to USEC to continue operations at Paducah's Gaseous Diffusion Plant after May 31.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) says USEC management notified the commission of the DOE's decision, but no formal notice has been filed with the NRC.
The NRC also tells Local 6 that it has not received an application from any other company to continue operations at the plant.
Additionally, the NRC says there must be a review process and an opportunity for hearings and that this process will likely take months to complete.
Union Vice President Jim Key tells Local 6 that cleanup and shutdown work will continue through June 2014. Key says that no employees have been sent home yet and that the shutdown will be a gradual process, with layoffs likely beginning in August.
Key provided this statement to Local 6 regarding the DOE's decision not to extend operations at the plant:
"I am disturbed and troubled by the fact that the government has chosen to shut down the sole remaining U.S. government-owned uranium enrichment plant, thereby negating our ability to produce a domestic supply of uranium and placing us in a position to rely on other foreign energy needs without a replacement facility in place."
U.S. Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, along with U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, released their own statement about the DOE's decision.
“We are disappointed the Obama Administration and DOE were unable to come to an agreement to extend operations at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant for another four months. We will work to ensure that DOE fulfills its responsibility to sufficiently cleanup the site and determine a long-term solution to utilize the facility and its assets. We believe there are proposals that were submitted to DOE that offer promising economic development and job creation potential for the community and we expect DOE to move quickly on its decision.”
McConnell, Paul and Whitfield have requested a meeting with Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz to discuss the matter.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear also released a statement regarding the DOE's decision. The governor's full statement is below:
“We are disappointed in the Department of Energy’s decision not to extend the operations at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion plant. Even though we have expected the closure for some time, the news is still painful. We know there are 1,100 very talented and hardworking people at that facility, and we had hoped that an alternative might have been found to keep it open.
As disheartening as this news is, we pledge our full assistance and support to the employees and community to absorb this loss and find new opportunities for those skilled and experienced workers. Our state’s Rapid Response teams, which help employees in the transition to seeking new work, are immediately available. We will continue to work hand-in-hand with local and regional economic development teams to attract new jobs to this area. Further, we will redouble our work with our Congressional delegation, DOE, and private sector partners to develop a new future for the site and the entire community.
Paducah is a strong, resilient city full of dependable, creative people – we are confident that those characteristics will carry citizens through this difficult time.”
Stay with WPSD Local 6 for updates as they become available.