After a year riddled with problems, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced a new funding commitment for cleanup, waste management and worker health initiatives at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Kentucky and the Portsmouth Plant in Ohio.
The Clinton/Gore Administration's Fiscal Year 2001 budget request is scheduled to be submitted to Congress on Feb. 7 and proposes federal funding totaling $109.2 million for the Paducah site and $113.5 million for the Portsmouth site.
"Our budget request to Congress puts our word into actions -- we're investing dollars to clean up gaseous diffusion plants, protect workers and create new jobs," said Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson. "This administration and this country have the resources and the will to make this happen."
Richardson also announced that the department is sending a request to Congress for $26 million for additional cleanup and health activities this year -- of which each plant would get more than $11 million.
The supplemental request includes $3.3 million at both the Paducah and Portsmouth plants as well as a third gaseous diffusion plant in Oak Ridge, Tenn., to fund expanded medical monitoring of workers and ongoing investigations at the plants.
DOE will use the cleanup funds for Paducah to remove a pile of drums containing scrap metal and begin to characterize the burial ground underneath it. It will also continue to remove the remaining 51,000 tons of contaminated scrap in eight outside storage areas to reduce contamination in creeks.
Cleanup funds will complete final corrective actions to remove contaminated groundwater plumes at the south side of the Portsmouth site.
The department will begin the design for and construction of actions to clean up contaminated soil and the plume on the northeast of the site as well.
In addition, 18,000 containers of mixed, low-level waste will be characterized to meet criteria for the receiving disposal facility.
The waste to be disposed of includes personal protective equipment, sampling equipment, floor sweepings and other miscellaneous debris that are contaminated with low levels of radioactive material.
Closing of the waste storage area would be completed this year, at least a year earlier than previously planned.