PADUCAH, Ky. – Energy Secretary Rick Perry and EM Assistant Secretary Anne Marie White visited the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant Site April 5, accompanied by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
“We’re excited about getting to take a look at the Paducah Site and the work going on here, and to get boots on the ground,” Perry said.
The leaders toured the site and received updates on cleanup progress and ongoing deactivation and environmental remediation of the Cold-War-era uranium-enrichment facilities.
Following the tour, Perry and McConnell joined a meeting with federal, state, and local officials, and contractor, business, and labor leaders. It was the first opportunity for many Paducah community leaders to meet White, who was recently confirmed by the Senate as Assistant Secretary for EM.
During a media availability following the event, Perry and McConnell spoke about the importance of safe and efficient cleanup and the added benefits of maintaining employment levels for Paducah’s highly skilled and specialized workforce.
“We’re committed to making sure that the resources are there, and making sure that the professional oversight is in place,” Perry said. “And having quality people like Anne White to oversee this, I have great confidence that this site is going to be appropriately addressed, and the people of Paducah can have confidence.”
Field Note from Assistant Secretary White
Last week, I was honored to join Secretary Perry and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at the Paducah Site for my first trip as EM Assistant Secretary. I went a day early to meet with federal staff and contractors. Robert Edwards, Jennifer Woodard, Bill Kirby, Alan Parker, and Tammy Courtney provided a great agenda and a very smooth tour. The Q&A sessions both with federal staff and the contractors clearly indicated to me their high level of conscientiousness, pride, and dedication to the project.
The trip was helpful to me in hearing insightful input that will benefit our ability at DOE headquarters to support the cleanup mission at Paducah. April Ladd laid out the work being done to deactivate the C-400 Cleaning Building in order to move forward on the “city block” strategy for the building and surrounding area. Brad Pont provided an A-plus tour of the gaseous diffusion plant control room and other areas. Clint Courtney, a control room operator at the Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride (DUF6) Conversion Project, explained how teamwork in the control room is essential to the processing operations there, and he also pointed out some challenges and how they are being worked through.
My thanks to the Mid-America Conversion Services crew at DUF6, the contract workers with Four Rivers, and the staff of Swift & Staley. Their feedback on challenges and suggested solutions will play an essential part as I formulate plans for the overall EM program direction. Thanks again to Leader McConnell and Secretary Perry for visiting EM’s Paducah site.
-Anne Marie White