Tornado hits Kentucky nuclear fuel processing plant

Reports coming out of ENENEWS regarding the damaged Kentucky plant are sparse, and conflicting statements abound.  Below you will find the best information we have been able to gather:

Portsmouth Daily Times, Nov. 18, 2013: Tornado hit Paducah plant Sunday [in Kentucky]

WPSD, Nov. 17, 2013: One of the plant’s four enrichment production buildings, the adjacent cooling towers and nearby electrical switchyard sustained most of the damage. Several of the transite panels that cover the building were torn off or broken. Electrical power poles, wiring and other electrical circuits were also damaged. The shrouds or collars that surround the fans on this set of cooling towers were destroyed.

NBC Lexington, KY, Nov. 18, 2013: Officials were continuing to monitor the facility Monday, but said there had been no hazardous material releases, according to the statement.

NRC Report, Nov. 17, 2013: [A]n alert was declared at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant due to an apparent tornado strike/severe weather event. […] “This event is reportable under 10 CFR 76.120(a)(4) where an emergency condition has been declared an Alert. […]”

The Courier Journal, Nov. 18, 2013: USEC stopped enriching uranium there in June.

Nearly all news outlets covering the Paducah tornado claim the plant stopped enriching uranium earlier this year. However, according to this report, (Emphasis Added) “On 14 November 2013 Russia has shipped the last batch of low-enriched uranium […] The cargo will be delivered to Baltimore and then to USEC’s Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Kentucky, where the uranium will be used to manufacture fuel for U.S. nuclear power plants.”

Also note the vast majority of reports only say that no “hazardous materials” were released — releases of “radioactive material” are not denied or admitted (see USEC’s twitter feed). The plant’s internal documents clearly distinguish between “hazardous” and “radioactive”. For example, APPENDIX F reads, “Categories of waste evaluated were LLW [low-level radioactive waste], TRU [transuranic waste], hazardous waste […] All low-level mixed (radioactive and hazardous) waste (LLMW) and hazardous waste at these sites are transported off site.”

Interestingly, USEC’s last tweet before the tornado hits is a message promoting a local showing of CNN’s much maligned pro-nuclear film ‘Pandora’s Promise‘, an event they appear to be sponsoring.

source: ENENEWS
Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant on ClimateViewer 3D
Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant on ClimateViewer 3D

The NRC report linked above has been removed.  Here is the report:

Event Number: 49544
Event Number: 49544

 

ALERT DUE TO STORM DAMAGE ON SITE

“On 11/17/13, at 1417 CST, an alert was declared at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant due to an apparent tornado strike/severe weather event. Multiple facilities were damaged with no injuries and no hazardous material released. No damage to the security fence was observed and the protected area remained secured during the event.

“This event is reportable under 10 CFR 76.120(a)(4) where an emergency condition has been declared an Alert.

“NRC Branch Chief has been notified. PGDP has no NRC Resident Inspector.

“PGDP Event Report No. PAD-2013-08.”

Notified DHS, FEMA, USDA, HHS, DOE, NICC, EPA, and Nuclear SSA via email.

* * * UPDATE FROM DAVID PETTY TO CHARLES TEAL AT 1746 EST ON 11/17/13 * * *

“On 11 /17/13, at 1638 CST, the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant decided to issue press releases describing the Alert issued by the plant that afternoon. The Alert was declared due to an apparent tornado strike/severe weather event on 11/17/13 at 1417 CST.

“This event is reportable under Criteria P in Appendix D of USEC procedure CP2-RA-RE 1 030 as any event or situation, related to the health and safety of the public or on-site personnel, or protection of the environment, for which a news release is planned or notification to other government agencies has been or will be made.

“NRC Branch Chief has been notified. PGDP has no resident inspector.

“PGDP Event Report No. PAD-2013-08.”

Notified RA (McCree), NMSS EO (Damon), R2DO (Desai), IRD (Gott), NMSS (Haney), DHS, FEMA, USDA, HHS, DOE, NICC, EPA, and Nuclear SSA via email.

* * * UPDATE FROM DAVID PETTY TO CHARLES TEAL AT 1910 EST ON 11/17/13 * * *

The Alert was terminated at 1806 CST on 11/17/13 after a complete security check of the site perimeter and a compilation of the damages sustained by the site. There were no personnel injuries and no releases (HAZMAT or radiological).

Notified RA (McCree), NMSS EO (Damon), R2DO (Desai), IRD (Gott), NMSS (Haney), DHS, FEMA, USDA, HHS, DOE, NICC, EPA, and Nuclear SSA via email.

Source: NRC Event Number: 49544

Here is evidence that USEC has indeed ceased uranium enrichment at the PGD plant:

[Docket No. 70–7001; NRC–2013–0099]
On April 2, 2013, the United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC) filed an application with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for the renewal of its Certificate of Compliance (CoC) for the Paducah Gaseous iffusion Plant (PGDP). The current CoC for PGDP is set to expire on December 31, 2013. The NRC staff found USEC’s renewal application acceptable for docketing and published a notice in the Federal Register acknowledging the receipt of the application and providing an opportunity for public comment. On June 3, 2013, USEC notified the NRC of its decision to permanently cease uranium enrichment activities at the PGDP. USEC stated that in 2014, it will return the PGDP facilities to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and that it would request termination of its CoC in 2014.

Here are USEC’s official tweets regarding the incident:

https://twitter.com/USEC_Inc/status/401350011889270784
November 15, 2013, 9:04 AM
Last Shipment of Nuclear Fuel From Russian Bombs Heads to U.S.

https://twitter.com/USEC_Inc/status/402212372602814465

https://twitter.com/USEC_Inc

A process building at USEC's Paducah Plant suffered damage to its external panels during severe weather on 11/17/13. pic.twitter.com/SIbwkioRuL
A process building at USEC’s Paducah Plant suffered damage to its external panels during severe weather on 11/17/13. pic.twitter.com/SIbwkioRuL
Damaged cooling tower at the Paducah Plant from severe weather on 11/17/13. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/j9aaAUckd1
Damaged cooling tower at the Paducah Plant from severe weather on 11/17/13. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/j9aaAUckd1 Shrouds that surround the tower fan blades were destroyed. Tower hasn’t been in use since USEC ceased enrichment at the plant in June. https://twitter.com/USEC_Inc
Workers at USEC's Paducah Plant position a crane to begin repair work on the side of a building damaged in the storm. pic.twitter.com/InU7x7IlwA
Workers at USEC’s Paducah Plant position a crane to begin repair work on the side of a building damaged in the storm. pic.twitter.com/InU7x7IlwA

More details on the PGD plant can be found here:

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