Federal officials weighing changes to activities near Kentucky plant
Posted: Wednesday, March 9, 2011 8:01 pm
PADUCAH, Ky. (AP) — Hunting and recreational activities could be allowed closer to a uranium enrichment plant in western Kentucky under a proposed policy change being considered by Kentucky and federal officials.
The Department of Energy and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources are weighing changes to activities allowed on 1,000 acres of wildlife management areas around the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, 15 miles west of Paducah.
USEC Inc. spokeswoman Georgann Lookofsky told The Paducah Sun that the plant operator is also reviewing the changes to see if they comply with safety regulations of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The license agreement between the DOE and state wildlife agency ends Aug. 31.
The Energy Department and Kentucky have license agreements that allow some types of recreational uses on parts of federal land at the site, said to Reinhard Knerr, the federal point man at the plant.
Knerr said some of the proposed changes are allowing gun hunting for small game, nature hikes, horseback riding and mountain biking. Under the current license agreement, those who register with Fish and Wildlife Resources can bow hunt during deer season and conduct bird dog field trials.
Knerr said the review taking place is to ensure the security and safety of the site are maintained.
“We’re trying to use the federal property so that more people can access it if they’re interested in doing so,” Knerr said.
Some security workers at the plant are concerned about the plan. Ryan Brown, president of the Security, Police, Fire Professionals of America Local 111, a union representing about 80 members of the plant’s security force, said some of the wildlife areas butt up against the plant site’s perimeter fence, and there is concern about the idea of people carrying deadly firearms in those areas.
“There’s a general feeling that this doesn’t look right. It doesn’t feel right,” said
Communication among the agencies involved is a concern as well, Brown said. People using the wildlife areas now check in at Fish and Wildlife Resources posts or stations, and with USEC security. Brown said the wildlife stations aren’t always manned and USEC security isn’t always aware of everyone on the land. This could be more of a problem if people are carrying firearms, Brown said.
“In our job, we could walk up blind to someone carrying a firearm and we can’t call anyone to find out who that person is and if they’re supposed to be there,” Brown said.
Information from: The Paducah Sun, http://www.paducahsun.com
Published in The Messenger 3.9.11