Bill allocates millions of PGDP cleanup dollars

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Reporter - Jason Hibbs
Photojournalist - Chad Darnall

PADUCAH, Ky.---Hundreds of cleanup workers could be hired in just a few months at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.

The federal spending bill sets aside much-needed money for deactivation, decontamination and decommissioning.

The U.S. House has passed it. So it needs approval from the senate, and the President's signature.

Before the Paducah Area Community Reuse Organization meets to talk about potential industry that could set up shop here, they learned hundreds of cleanup jobs could be saved or created.

PACRO Director Charlie Martin hopes the 265 million dollars appropriated for PGDP cleanup sets a precedent.

"Hopefully it will set a level that is high enough, we can actually start seeing an end to the site being cleaned up," Martin said.

If the budget passes, it'll be up to the Department Of Energy to determine how to spend that money, and award contracts. 

Congressman Ed Whitfield isn't sure who that contractor will be, but hopes recently laid off workers can land the jobs.

"They are going to be hiring people, and many of these people are already familiar with the area, with the site, they know what's going on out there," Whitfield said.

In the meantime, PACRO hopes G.E. Hitachi sets up shop here, but knows that will take time.

"Building any plant, especially a large industrial plant takes a lot of time, years, not weeks," Martin said.

At least there could be more jobs to fill the gap USEC leaves behind. Local 6 reached out to LATA Environmental, the current cleanup contractor to see if they'd be interested in bidding on a new contract. A spokesperson said they had no comment.

PACRO looked at other industries that could build at the PGDP site. They want to attract additional companies that could work to support GE Hitachi and work independently. A lot of that is contingent upon cleanup.

Cleanup contractor LATA laid off 101 workers in December because of federal funding uncertainties.

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