Feds Said Denied Inspectors Access

Wednesday, August 2nd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PADUCAH, Ky. (AP) — State environmental inspectors claim the U.S. Department of Energy illegally denied them access to cleanup operations at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant last month.

The Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection cited the Energy Department for the alleged July 13 incident, the same day inspectors cited the Energy Department for two violations of air-pollution laws.

The Energy Department, which owns the site and hired the contractors for the cleanup, disputed the state's claim that its inspectors were impeded for about an hour.

Spokesman Walter Perry said the agency has to ``follow security access requirements under federal law.''

According to the state, when inspectors arrived at the site to gain admission to the plant, the Energy Department had difficulty finding anyone to approve their entry.

``We want to make sure our inspectors do have timely access,'' said Mark York, a spokesman for the Natural Resources Cabinet.

The state also slapped the department with two violations after finding dust was escaping from the equipment used to shred and compact a heap of rusting, radioactive drums that are being crushed as part of the cleanup effort.

Each violation carries a maximum penalty of $25,000 a day. No final decision has been made on the fines, however. The state has penalized the Energy Department only once before, for $5,000.


On the Net:

DOE info: http://www.eh.doe.gov/oversight/paducah/html/paducah.htm