DOE Highlights UK Design's Plan for Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant
LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 18, 2012) — The United States Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Environmental Management is showcasing the work of University of Kentucky College of Design students on their website in their news spotlight section. The Office of Environmental Management News Flash describes the research and a 150-year plan for the future use of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant developed by UK.
"Students Imagine Paducah Site as Technical, Industrial Hub," issued May 14, discusses UK's proposal, a 150-year plan for the closure, clean up and future use of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, located near Paducah, Ky., one of the most contaminated sites in the United States. The plan was presented to DOE leaders at the National Chairs Meeting, held April 17-19, in Paducah. The national meeting held every two years brings together approximately 40 leaders associated with Paducah's Citizens Advisory Board and seven other Site-Specific Advisory Boards from around the nation.
The Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant once provided several thousand high-paying jobs, which have diminished over the years and will soon be eliminated upon the plant's closure. As the point of origin for much of the fissile material bound for both energy and defense during the last 60 years, the site now finds itself with a four-mile long heterogeneous plume of contaminants running beneath it.
Rather than see job losses and legacy contamination as problems and causes for the region’s demise, UK students looked at those problems as the basis for a solution.
As a major example of service learning at UK, students participating in "The Paducah Project," led by Gary Rohrbacher and Ann Filson of the UK School of Architecture, proposed a new economy generated by the complex process of cleaning up the site. The studio developed scale models of the site’s geographical features, its subsurface conditions, and the groundwater contaminant plumes. The models are to be used as a tool to provoke conversation and debate among scientists and the public, with the hope of stimulating progress toward removing and abating the groundwater contamination and its sources, enabling a regeneration of the site and region.
The College of Design project builds upon previous work and research done at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant by a collaboration of partners at UK, including the Kentucky Research Consortium on Energy and Environment, Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute, UK Center for Applied Energy Research, the College of Engineering, and the College of Communications and Information Studies. The combined accomplishments between these groups are serving as long-term (e.g. 100+ years) sustainable possibilities and opportunities for the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant and Paducah.
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