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A deactivation worker inspects railcars containing insulating oil from the Paducah Site’s C-533 Switchyard as they are prepared to be shipped to a buyer for the Paducah Area Community Reuse Organization.
A deactivation worker inspects railcars containing insulating oil from the Paducah Site’s C-533 Switchyard as they are prepared to be shipped to a buyer for the Paducah Area Community Reuse Organization.

PADUCAH, Ky.EM recently transferred ownership of more than 300,000 gallons of electrical insulating oil to the Paducah Area Community Reuse Organization (PACRO) from the Paducah Site’s C-533 Switchyard.

PACRO will use the oil, transported in 12 tank cars, to provide a revenue stream for economic development in the Kentucky counties of McCracken, Ballard, Marshall, and Graves, and Massac County in Illinois.

“The sale of this oil, which can be reused or recycled, is a big boost to economic development efforts in western Kentucky,” PACRO Chairperson and Marshall County Judge-Executive Kevin Neal said. “We are fortunate to have a partnership with the Department of Energy that allows us to generate revenue from excess property and equipment for future uses within our five-county organization.”

Rodney “Rocket” Wilkens starts a pump to transfer insulating oil from the C-533 Switchyard to a waiting railcar.
Rodney “Rocket” Wilkens starts a pump to transfer insulating oil from the C-533 Switchyard to a waiting railcar.

Paducah Site Lead Jennifer Woodard of EM’s Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office noted PACRO’s important role in the Paducah Site’s progress.

“We are pleased to partner with PACRO in a mutually beneficial relationship,” Woodard said.

The oil was drained as part of the deactivation of the switchyard. During peak uranium-enrichment operations, four switchyards were required. Power entered the plant through overhead transmission lines from the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Shawnee Fossil Plant in McCracken County and the Joppa Steam Plant in Massac County.

Paducah Area Community Reuse Organization Executive Director Scott Darnell, left, and EM Paducah Site strategic planner Buz Smith stand in front of tank cars at the site.
Paducah Area Community Reuse Organization Executive Director Scott Darnell, left, and EM Paducah Site strategic planner Buz Smith stand in front of tank cars at the site.

Power could be routed through one of more than 90 oil-filled circuit breakers to oil-filled transformers located in the switchyards. Any one of those transformers could handle the total power load of the city of Paducah. The switchyards combined could power a city as large as Nashville, Tennessee.

Power needs at the Paducah Site have reduced significantly since enrichment operations ceased in 2013. A power reconfiguration project completed in 2015 consolidated the plant loads to one switchyard, freeing three switchyards for deactivation. Plans are underway to construct a new substation to allow deactivation of the last original switchyard.

Optimization of utilities at the Paducah Site will continue to be a focus as deactivation and cleanup progresses.

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