PADUCAH, Ky. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Energy is expected to decide late in 2014 whether to approve construction of an on-site landfill for waste materials from the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.
The Paducah Sun reported (http://bit.ly/15UgdJ5 ) that officials think a landfill could be constructed as part of the ongoing environmental cleanup at the site.
DOE officials started seeking public input in November 2008 regarding the potential construction of a disposal area within the more than 6,000 acres that houses and surrounds the plant in western McCracken County.
An on-site landfill would house demolition and construction debris, as well as environmental material. The cell could be equipped to hold up to 4 million cubic yards of waste from the plant's eventual decontamination and decommissioning after its return from the United States Enrichment Corporation.
DOE has cleared five out of 12 potential landfill sites. It is not clear that the agency has decided to go through with the project, let alone which site it would choose if construction moves forward.
The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act provides a legal path for the Energy Department to dispose of waste materials. It's also known as Superfund. The Paducah plant is a Superfund site.
Plants across the country that ceased operations and are further along in the cleanup phase, such as the former Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Oak Ridge, Tenn., have on-site cells. The landfills can take on different forms, such as the cell at the Fernald, Ohio, site that looks like a large grassy hill. Officials say research is too premature to determine what a landfill at the Paducah plant site would look like.
The DOE says that a minimum of 110 acres of DOE-owned property is needed to construct an on-site disposal cell.
Tim Kreher, public lands biologist, said that the department licenses about 2,000 acres of DOE-owned property that it uses for hunting and fishing within its overall wildlife management area. Kreher said that the department hosts sporting dog events on some of the property it leases from the DOE. He said that some of the property officials are considering for a CERCLA cell is located on acreage that the department licenses and could affect wildlife management areas.
But because no decision has been made, he declined comment on whether he would favor or oppose a landfill.
"We try to cooperate with the DOE and with contractors," Kreher said. "They try to always provide the appropriate amount of input when things like that will affect us. I don't have technical expertise to say whether the facility is better off here or somewhere else."
Information from: The Paducah Sun, http://www.paducahsun.com