PADUCAH, Ky. – Nearly 1,000 people toured the former gaseous diffusion plant at the Paducah Site during the first two seasons of public tours that began in 2016.
“EM’s mission at the site is to ensure safe and effective cleanup, and the tours help the public understand the challenges involved and the progress being made,” said Jennifer Woodard, Paducah Site Lead with EM’s Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office (PPPO). “We are pleased that the public is benefiting from the tours and learning about the past, present, and future of the Paducah Site.”
The plant first enriched uranium in the 1950s for national security purposes before its mission shifted to enriching uranium for the commercial nuclear industry. Part of the three-hour tour includes entering the C-300 Building Central Control Room to view the thousands of gauges, controls, and lights that monitored the gaseous diffusion process before production operations ceased in 2013. Visitors see the plant’s 2-million-square-foot enrichment process buildings and the C 720 Maintenance Building’s machine shop, which show the magnitude of work required to maintain the operation.
Other than former workers seeing reminders of the plant’s heyday, the tours offer many with local or family ties their first opportunity to see it up close for themselves. Similarly, the tours are a great opportunity for plant neighbors who were unfamiliar with the actual work done there or the size of the plant facilities because of secrecy requirements.
“Awesome information and history,” commented Debbie Stone, who toured in June. “It makes me even more proud to be from Paducah.”