Governor Steve Beshear today held a ceremonial bill signing of House Bill 559, legislation that clarifies the types of nuclear-based technologies that can be developed and used in the Commonwealth.
The legislation, sponsored by House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins, of Sandy Hook, allows nuclear-related industries to exist in Kentucky as long as electricity generation is not the primary output of their processes.
"This legislation is an important step toward developing industries that will give western Kentucky potentially significant employment opportunities," Gov. Beshear said. "While I have been assured through efforts of our congressional delegation that the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant will continue its work for some time to come, I believe this legislation allows us to plan for the future in such a way to ensure there will not only be job stability at that facility, but also added employment opportunities as well."
HB 559 allows industry development for such nuclear-based technologies as nuclear-assisted coal or gas conversion where electricity is not the primary output; re-enrichment of depleted nuclear tails; recycling or reprocessing of spent nuclear fuels; and the processing of metals contaminated with radioactive materials.
"I was honored to work with Gov. Beshear, State Representatives Will Coursey and Steve Rudy, USEC officials and Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant's employees to help save these important jobs through the passage of House Bill 559," Rep. Adkins said. "The goal of this legislation, of which I am a primary sponsor, is to make the facility more competitive and to keep jobs there for generations to come."
"The types of technologies allowed by this legislation provide important job creation and economic development benefits, as well as environmental benefits," said Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Len Peters. "By allowing reprocessing, recycling and re-enrichment of certain materials, the overall amount that must be managed and stored is reduced over time."
Earlier this month, an agreement was reached between the U.S. Department of Energy and Kentucky's Congressional delegation that will extend the nearly 1,200 jobs at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant for another year.
Gov. Beshear said the passage of HB 559 will create a transition into a viable alternative use for the facility.