Governor Steve Beshear announced today that after a meeting with U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz this weekend, the new project proposed for land adjacent to the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PGDP) is moving forward, which will create new jobs and provide stability for the well-trained workforce of that region.
Gov. Beshear requested the meeting to discuss in greater detail plans by GE Hitachi to apply for a license to construct the Global Laser Enrichment (GLE) project on land next to the PGDP. The GLE has advised the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that it will make application by this fall to construct and operate the new laser enrichment facility.
"This commitment for the GLE project is good news for several reasons," said Gov. Beshear. "Jobs will be created during the construction and ultimate operation of the GLE facility and, just as important, I again impressed upon Secretary Moniz that it is imperative to move quickly on the cleanup of the PGDP site rather than being a prolonged surveillance and monitoring plan. To expedite the cleanup, we must have assurances that the money which has been appropriated for cleanup and transition will be spent as quickly and efficiently as possible."
Gov. Beshear said allowing the GLE construction to begin on the site adjacent to the PGDP means both activities can take place simultaneously, which means jobs for hundreds of people in the region over a long period of time. Additionally, once the PGDP site has been fully decommissioned and cleaned, it will become a prime location for other facilities like the GLE.
"I am very pleased the federal government is listening and helping move these important economic development opportunities forward," said the Governor.
"I am excited, along with the Governor, to announce that the GLE project is moving along quickly. We need those jobs for the Paducah area, not only in clean-up and in the construction of the new plant, but also the permanent jobs this project will create. This is exciting news for Paducah! I thank the Governor for his hard work and the Energy Secretary for helping to move this along," said Rep. Gerald Watkins.
"This is an important development and I am appreciative to all those who are working to make this opportunity a reality for our area," said Sen. Bob Leeper.
Owned by the U.S. Department of Energy, the plant operated since the 1950s. It was announced in May 2013 that the DOE would not extend its agreements to subsidize the facility's operations. PGDP, which is the only American-owned plant for enriching uranium, employed approximately 1,100 skilled workers until this past fall. Since the announcement was made that the facility would be shut down, Gov. Beshear has met several times with U.S. DOE and administration leaders to find other uses for the plant.
The proposed GLE facility, first announced last fall, was seen by the Governor as a "strong step toward energizing that sector of our economy, while providing economic stability and investment for the Paducah community."
According to a letter from GLE to the NRC, approval for construction of the new plant is requested by November 2016.