U.S. Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul and Congressman Ed Whitfield today released the following letter they sent to Secretary of Energy Moniz regarding future development of the material and the on-going cleanup efforts at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant:
Dear Secretary Moniz:
We write regarding the Department of Energy’s (DOE) efforts to utilize high-assay and low-assay depleted uranium hexafluoride (tails) inventories located at DOE sites and the on-going—but currently inadequate—cleanup efforts at Paducah.
We commend DOE for taking proactive, timely measures to utilize the tails at the sites. As you have stated publicly, central to your decision should be national and energy security considerations and the economic benefit to U.S. taxpayers. We also appreciate public comments that DOE will give weighted consideration to those proposals seeking to utilize the material in Paducah and urge you, when reviewing the analysis, to give significant consideration to job creation at the Paducah DOE site. Since the Paducah community has hosted these tails for decades and has continually emphasized its interest in reusing them, we believe the best option for the tails will be for use in further economic development in Paducah, especially in light of the recent cessation of enrichment at the gaseous diffusion plant and the subsequent layoffs that resulted. We believe any option that DOE may consider which does not utilize the tails in Paducah should include the costs of lost employment to the local, state, and federal governments. As you consider the future of these tails, we encourage DOE to proceed in a way that strengthens and invigorates the future of domestic enrichment technology, brings innovation and opportunity to Paducah, and offers value to the U.S. taxpayer. We are very confident all of these objectives can be accomplished contemporaneously.
Equally important is DOE’s effort to continue environmental cleanup at the site. We urge DOE to move quickly to begin this cleanup using all means necessary to reposition the hard working and qualified employees that are available as a result of the cessation of enrichment at the facility. We support DOE’s efforts to reprogram any unused or unobligated funds that will advance and accelerate clean up at the site and stand ready to work with you if necessary approval is needed from Congress or any relevant committees. However, we have significant concerns with the recently released communication from DOE that suggests the possibility of allowing the gaseous diffusion plant to stay in a surveillance and maintenance state for an undetermined amount of time rather than immediately beginning decontamination and decommissioning (D&D) of the facilities. Delaying D&D work is unacceptable and illogical. Beginning cleanup efforts now will not only benefit the community, but will also save taxpayer money in the long run. If DOE does not advance these efforts, especially in the October to December time frame, and if DOE continues to suggest that surveillance and maintenance is the only immediate option for the facility, we believe you will be endangering the health, safety, and economic viability of the region.
In light of the on-going concerns we share with our constituents regarding the reuse of these tails and DOE’s plan to delay cleanup at the site, we request a meeting with you and Deputy Secretary Poneman the week of September 30th. At the meeting, we request you provide a plan that encourages the use of these tails in Paducah and expedites cleanup of the site.
Sincerely, Mitch McConnell U.S. Senator; Rand Paul, M.D. U.S. Senator; Ed Whitfield U.S. Member of Congress