Steve Hampson of the University of Kentucky, left to right, West Kentucky Community & Technical College President Dr. Barbara Veazey, Paducah Junior College Board of Trustees member Ken Wheeler and Buz Smith of the DOE Paducah Site Office examine a DOE Paducah Site groundwater model exhibit at the West Kentucky Community & Technical College Emerging Technology Center.
The groundwater model exhibit is shown from the side.
The groundwater model exhibit is shown from above.
The display is designed to help people understand the difficulty and complexity of groundwater cleanup, said Steve Hampson, associate director of the Kentucky Research Consortium for Energy and Environment at the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER). His group has done extensive work to support expeditious, cost-efficient and technically effective cleanup of the Paducah site in far western Kentucky.
“The groundwater accomplishment display is a start,” Hampson said.
Cleaning up about 2,100 acres of contaminated groundwater is important to future use of the site, where the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant operates. DOE owns the land, oversees cleanup, and leases the plant site to United States Enrichment Corporation, which conducts uranium enrichment operations.
The models grew from funding secured by U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), including money to allow the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Design to explore reuses of the plant after closure, said Ken Wheeler, a member of the Paducah Junior College Board of Trustees and the Paducah Citizens Advisory Board.
“The project was undertaken in 2011 and has proved to be an excellent learning environment for UK students in developing a real-world reuse concept for the site,” Wheeler said.
WKCTC Continuing Education Coordinator Kevin O'Neill credited UK, DOE, and DOE cleanup contractor LATA Environmental Services of Kentucky for making the exhibit possible.
“To have the opportunity to house this display for the public to see is exciting,” O'Neill said. “It will be a valuable educational tool for our area school children as well as the public at large to see what has been done at a facility that has meant so much to so many people for many years.”
In developing the models, UK College of Design students envisioned the Paducah site as a future thriving area with multiple uses such as research and development, education, energy production, manufacturing and recycling/reclamation, said Gary Rohrbacher, assistant professor of architecture in the College of Design.
One of UK's models and plans developed for the Paducah site were displayed in April 2012 at the Fifth International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The event is a world architectural showcase of problems seen as opportunities.
“The students did a wonderful job depicting not only the cleanup challenges but the potential for site redevelopment,” said Dave Dollins, groundwater project manager for the Paducah DOE Site Office. “We greatly appreciate their vision and work.”
Groundwater at the Paducah site is contaminated with trichloroethene (TCE), a common industrial degreaser. EM has made significant strides in reducing the concentration of TCE by pumping and treating about 3 billion gallons of groundwater since the 1990s. Electrical resistance heating was used in 2003 and 2010, and will be repeated this summer to remove TCE from as deep as 65 feet below the ground near a cleaning building in the center of the plant that is the leading source of groundwater contamination.
More information about the creation of the Paducah groundwater models can be found on CAER's blog here.