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Paducah plant's transfer to DOE slated for October

BY DAVID ZOELLER dzoeller@paducahsun.comSNbS

Transfer of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant back to regulatory control of the U.S. Department of Energy is expected to take place in late October, it was announced Thursday night.

Officials with both the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which currently has oversight of United States Enrichment Corporation's operations at the plant, and the DOE made presentations at a public meeting  at the McCracken County Public Library.

The meeting was designed to outline the process for terminating USEC's certificate authorizing uranium enrichment operations at the plant. USEC took over direct operations of the Paducah plant in May 1999. It announced in May 2013 it would close after the DOE did not approve an extension on its uranium operations.

USEC requested that the NRC terminate its enrichment certificate, since the process no longer occurs at the Paducah facility.

Once the NRC completes its review and documentation process and notifies USEC of the certificate termination, the de-leasing and return of the facility to DOE will take place.  On July 22, the DOE selected Fluor Federal Services as the contractor to oversee cleanup operations. The contractor has 90 days to be "stand-up" â “ ready to take over operations at the plant, according to Jennifer Woodard, Paducah site lead for the DOE.

"We're targeting late October for the transition," said Woodard. "That's what we're working on to make sure they (Fluor) can take it back safely at that point." 

Fluor has a three-year contract. Going forward, the DOE will award five-year contracts as its scope of work changes, Woodard said. In its last report to Congress, DOE indicated the deactivation and decommissioning process would be completed by 2040, and the approximately 700-750 acres inside the fence at the plant would then be clear for industrial use.

Contact David Zoeller, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8676.

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