In Washington, Paducah chamber members seek funding for plant cleanup

At the Department of Energy, Paducah Chamber of Commerce members made it known they want nearly a third of a billion dollars this fiscal year to clean up the former Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.

"Whatever funding we can get, we definitely want to have," Bob Nichols said. 

Nichols is director of operations at Fluor: the company picked to start the deactivation and decommissioning.

Not only does he want money, but contract stability.

"Usually a longer-term contract will allow us to absolutely stand up, do long-term planning without any kind of disruption to the workforce," Nichols said.

He says the workforce is growing, from about 300 employees last year to roughly 1,100 today. And there’s more hiring on the horizon.

"We are still expanding. Probably another hundred (are expected) to come onto the staff," Nichols said. 

Nichols says Fluor is removing hazardous waste, and there are plans to tear down nearly a dozen buildings.

Energy Secretary Ernie Moniz supports the cleanup but couldn’t commit to any specific funding levels.

"I know it’s not going to satisfy all of us or any of us all the time, but we’ll just have to, you certainly have our commitment to work as constructively as we can."

That’s welcome news to Nichols, who says our area needs all the jobs it can get after recent years and weeks of unfortunate layoffs.