Department of Energy weighing options over future of gaseous plant
PADUCAH — It's no secret USEC, Western Kentucky's largest industrial employer, is closing up shop at the country's only uranium enrichment facility. But what's up in the air is the company that could take its place.
"We are looking for something that would be taking advantage of the fact that it is an industrial site today," said Bill Murphie.
Murphie is the Department of Energy's Manager at Paducah's gaseous diffusion plant. He said the government is looking at ways to keep the facility operational. The DOE is holding a two-day workshop in Paducah to try to lure prospective new tenants into taking over.
"Our goal here is to see if there is any new or innovative ideas that could be brought by the commercial industry to continue the operations of the plant," said Murphie.
"We know that the plant is not efficient to run," said Paducah Mayor Bill Paxton.
Paxton said any new business would be a welcome change but not at the expense of the plants current 1,200 employees.
"It'll be missed and we've got to keep those jobs as long as we can or to create new jobs," Paxton said.
Nineteen different nuclear and industrial companies are showing interest in the 2,300 acre site. Murphie knows he needs only one committed company to make an offer and he's hoping a deal can be done sometime before next May.
"We're looking to try to maximize the attributes of the plant, whoever needs to reuse it because that's the one that most likely will want it," he said.