When Nanette Gallant stepped off a bus onto the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Paducah Site during a site tour last year, she was amazed by the extensiveness of the former gaseous diffusion plant operations.
Gallant and her husband, Lee, live in Knoxville, Tennessee, and have toured a number of former nuclear energy sites, nuclear-themed museums, and other points of interest related to the Manhattan Project of World War II and the Cold War that followed. The experience at the Paducah site exceeded expectations.
"The Paducah Site is the most unique of all the places we've visited because so many buildings are still intact," Gallant said of the plant that ceased uranium enrichment in 2013. "We have been astounded at the enormity, yet efficiency, of these plants and activities to help our military be prepared to defend our nation at multiple levels."
While studying at East Carolina University in the 1970s, Nanette Gallant decided to pursue a career in the U.S. Army. She and Lee, a former nuclear weapons specialist in the U.S. Air Force, are lured by the history of nuclear energy, the dedication of the workers at these former sites, and the scientific advancements that developed as a result, she said.
According to DOE Paducah Site lead Jennifer Woodard of the Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office, interest in Cold War history is a big part of what has drawn 1,450 people to tour the site.
"You have to see the facilities for yourself to truly grasp the magnitude of the former gaseous diffusion operations here," Woodard said. "DOE is proud to welcome the public to the Paducah Site for the fourth consecutive year to learn about not only the former missions here, but also the economic benefits to the community and the progress of our environmental cleanup."
With Paducah and several sites already under her belt, Gallant said she plans to visit more sites, from Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge to the Savannah River National Laboratory.
Online registration for the April 6 and May 18, tours is now open. Visit https://fourriversnuclearpartnership.com/tours for details and registration.