Paducah Area Community Reuse Organization Chairman Eddie Jones was pleased with the reception local officials received from U.S. Department of Energy representatives in a face-to-face meeting this week in Washington, D.C.
PACRO representatives Jones and Greg Wiles, the organization’s executive director, were part of a group of more than 40 local government, business and industry leaders participating in the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce’s D.C. Fly-In.
Among the two days of meetings with various federal agency representatives and elected officials was one with William “Ike” White, acting assistant secretary for the DOE’s Office of Environmental Management, and DOE Deputy Secretary David Turk.
PACRO is the single point of contact designated by DOE to identify and reuse surplus assets from the DOE site to help offset the economic impact on communities, including the loss of jobs, in the aftermath of the plant ceasing operations.
“The deputy secretary was quite engaging. He seems to be bringing a kind of youthful excitement to the Department of Energy,” Jones said.
“His outlook on the impact to our community drawing things down (at the Paducah site) convinced me that he understood the need to have our local economy at heart. He grew up in a small town that had been impacted by the closing of a steel mill.”
PACRO joined the chamber in advocating for a $2 million grant to study what the next steps would be to prepare to re-industrialize the 3,500-acre site for future economic development purposes.
“I did say we feel like children that are going to inherit a 3,500-acre farm and we want to start planning and drawing pictures of what it’s going to look like when we get it,” he said.
Jones, who is also a McCracken County Commissioner, gave DOE officials a brief update on the interest shown by a Canadian company, CVMR, to refine the 10,000 tons of nickel stored at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.
“I said we are a curious community and we had a TED (technology, entertainment and design) Talk last week (from CVMR officials) and think it’s time to relook at the issue of nickel because the market has changed. There’s a greater demand for nickel,” he said.
“We brought him up to speed that there’s at least one company that says they’ve got a process that’s been validated in their trials. They’ve got a process that does separate the nickel from the contaminant.”
Jones said it was nice to have the opportunity to discuss the community’s ideas for the future of the site in person.
“The public is part of that conversation and now it’s been elevated.”
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