PADUCAH, Ky. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Energy is seeking proposals from companies for the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in an effort to cut costs while preserving some or all of the 1,200 jobs at the site.
The Paducah Sun (http://bit.ly/TU4KGH) reports DOE posted a formal request on its website Wednesday requesting detailed proposals from companies that want to lease or purchase the facility for commercial purposes, that want to purchase, exchange or transfer uranium hexafluoride at the site or some combination of the two.
The beleaguered plant had been scheduled to close last year, but a deal was reached in May to keep in open for another year to enrich deplete uranium for the Tennessee Valley Authority and Energy Northwest, a utility in Washington state.
"Maybe someone (a company) wants to come in to operate the site, or they may want parts of the site," said Tim Echelard, a contractor spokesman for DOE, on Thursday. "This is to find out who is interested. What would you want to do with it? What are your ideas?"
The deadline for responses to the DOE request is Feb. 21.
The request doesn't change anything for the United States Enrichment Corp., according to spokesman Paul Jacobson. He said USEC leases the property from DOE, which owns 3,556 acres at the site.
"We have made no decision about the future of the plant," Jacobson said Thursday. "We continue to operate under the current contract that is good through the end of May."
Jim Key, vice president of the United Steel Workers, Union Local 550, said he's interested to see state and federal officials can help move development along at the plant.
A spokesman for U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell said the Senate minority leader along with Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Ed Whitfield continue to pursue options to help workers stay employed after the current enrichment activities are completed.
Paducah Economic Development President Chad Chancellor said extending the plant's work or re-industrializing it for other purposes is a manageable undertaking.
"We're looking forward to see who bids on it (the EOI), and we're going to work with them every way we can," Chancellor said. "This remains our No. 1 economic development issue."
Information from: The Paducah Sun, http://www.paducahsun.com