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Bill allows Paducah DOE site funding

BY WILL PINKSTON wpinkston@paducahsun.com

Potential passage of the federal omnibus spending bill could authorize millions of dollars in funding to U.S. Department of Energy cleanup operations at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.

The $1.1 trillion spending bill - anticipated to receive bipartisan congressional approval sometime this week - included a provision for $265 million for the Paducah site, according to Chris Pack, press secretary for U.S. Ed Whitfield. The funding is about $3 million more than requested in President Barack Obama's budget.

The bill has yet to pass the House or Senate, but Pack was cautiously optimistic it would arrive on the president's desk before the week's end.

Should the bill be signed into law, the DOE would need to choose the contractor for decontamination and decommissioning, Pack said. A portion of the money will go toward funding for other cleanup contracts at the site.

Whitfield said he hoped that whoever is ultimately awarded the contracts for cleanup will hire back some of the workers who were laid off in December. Whitfield planned to continue working with U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul to garner support for the site project.

The budget compromise announcement comes weeks after LATA Kentucky laid off 79 hourly positions and 12 salaried worker positions because of budget constraints. In July, LATA planned a 145-employee layoff that was avoided when the DOE freed extra funding but the federal shutdown and lack of a fiscal year budget at the time ultimately forced the company to move forward with layoffs.

The DOE did not immediately return requests for comment Tuesday.

 

Contact Will Pinkston, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8676 or follow @WCPinkston on Twitter.

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