In a meeting this morning with U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Deputy Secretary Dan Poneman, and Assistant Secretary of Environmental Management, David Huizenga, Governor Beshear expressed his continuing concerns about the future of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant and the 1,100 workers employed there, as well as the need for immediate site cleanup. Gov. Beshear is one of the first governors to meet privately with the new Secretary, and Gov. Beshear called the meeting a productive exchange.
Sec. Moniz expressed deep appreciation for the 60-year partnership between the Paducah community and the U.S. government, and reiterated his desire to continue that partnership with the Commonwealth.
"We've been clear from the start that our primary objectives are to find new economic development opportunities for the facility, to create and preserve jobs, and to protect the public by promptly beginning site cleanup," said Gov. Beshear. "Sec. Moniz has listened to each of those concerns and understands the importance of this enormous asset to that region and to our entire state. After this meeting, I feel confident that we will continue to closely work together toward each of those goals."
Although last week's Request for Offers (RFO) mentions January 2014 as a deadline for decision, Sec. Moniz committed to moving as quickly as possible to evaluate any and all proposals received, and pledged to pay particular attention to any request for use of assets at the Paducah site. This addresses the Governor's specific concern that the RFO appeared to allow a business to purchase the tails without having to use the facility.
Although DOE has obvious budgetary constraints, as do all federal agencies, Gov. Beshear strongly urged the Secretary to move PGDP into the decommissioning and decontamination (D&D) process as soon as possible, so that the property can be utilized for economic development in the future. The Secretary was sympathetic to those concerns, and promised to review those options.
Sec. Moniz committed senior staff to work with the Governor's office and Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Len Peters in all future communications and decision-making related to the Paducah site.
Gov. Beshear later met with senior White House officials to express the same concerns, and those officials have also committed to working with the Governor and DOE on these issues.