Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant damaged by the November 17 severe storms
A team from the National Weather Service toured areas of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant damaged by the November 17 severe storms in the region to officially determine if the plant damage was due to a tornado. The Weather Service routinely conducts such assessments following severe storms. The results of the NWS evaluation will not impact any of our completed reporting requirements.
On-site monitoring has confirmed there has been no release of radiological or other hazardous material.
Storm cleanup and repair of plant facilities damaged during Sunday’s severe weather outbreak are the primary focus for personnel at the plant. A recovery team appointed immediately after the alert declaration ended has developed a comprehensive plan to address the plant-wide cleanup and repair in an orderly manner. The initial priorities include collecting debris in and around damaged facilities; completing detailed inspections to make sure exterior plant equipment such as cranes are functioning properly; planning and staging equipment needed for elevated repairs, such as the siding replacement on the process building; and, repairing damaged electrical lighting circuits and poles around the plant perimeter. A preliminary assessment of damage to the process building suggests that less than one percent of its siding was lost during the storm.
USEC ceased enriching uranium at the plant in June, and only limited plant operations related to inventory management were ongoing at the time of the storm. Once the onsite alert was declared, this work was conservatively restricted until inspections determined it was safe to resume normal operations, which occurred yesterday afternoon.
USEC continues to work closely with the Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, local authorities and Kentucky regulatory agencies to keep them informed of the company’s damage assessment and recovery efforts.
The Paducah plant is going to make a corporate donation to the Shawnee Development Council who is leading relief efforts. Some USEC workers and their immediate families were directly affected by the tornado damage that occurred in nearby Brookport.
Two unions at the Paducah plant, the United Steel Workers and the Security, Police, Fire Professionals of America, are hosting drives to collect cleaning products and non-perishable food.
USEC employees use a mechanical lift to position siding panels high on the side of one of the plant’s enrichment process buildings. These are replacements for panels damaged Sunday afternoon when a suspected tornado moved across the site. The enrichment process system was not damaged and safety systems operated properly throughout the storm. USEC ceased enrichment at the Paducah plant in June and only limited inventory management work was underway when the storm hit. No one at the site was injured during the storm and no radiological or hazardous materials were released. Repair work is expected to continue for several more days.