Local 8-550 Workers Engage in Project to Help Community Development

Local 8-550 members at the former Paducah, Ky., Gaseous Diffusion Plan cleanup site are draining insulating oil from electrical components into rail cars that are then transported to a community organization that supports economic development in the region.

About 30 members who work in the electrical field for Four Rivers Nuclear Partnership, the site’s deactivation and remediation contractor, recently transferred about 210,000 gallons of oil from the C-531 switchyard to the Paducah Area Community Reuse Organization (PACRO). This organization reuses or recycles the oil to provide funds for economic development in the Kentucky counties of McCracken, Ballard, Marshall, and Graves and Massac County in Illinois.

USW LU 8-550 member Cayce King connects a hose to a rail car to drain oil from the C-531 switchyard. Each rail car can hold approximately 25,000 gallons of oil.

The Department of Energy’s Environmental Management (EM) office partners with PACRO to provide excess items. Part of the site’s mission is to reduce waste and be good stewards of the environment, which includes reusing or recycling materials no longer needed.

At its peak in enriching uranium, the site used four switchyards to power four large process buildings. Power could be routed through one of more than 90 oil-filled circuit breakers to oil-filled transformers located in the switchyards. The transformer oil performed as an insulator and cooling agent in the system.

USW LU 8-550 member Matt Gill hooks up a hose to a switchyard electrical component to pump oil into rail cars for transfer to the Paducah Area Community Reuse Organization.

These utility distribution systems are no longer needed. Since Four Rivers Nuclear Partnership began deactivating the switchyards, more than 500,000 gallons of transformer oil were transferred to PACRO.

The C-531 switchyard is the last electrical switchyard to be shut down, and USW workers are completing the final steps to deactivate it this summer.

Paducah Site workers monitor progress as oil is drained from the C-531 Switchyard into a railcar for transfer to the Paducah Area Community Reuse Organization. The transfer required the use of nine rail cars containing a total of approximately 210,000 gallons of transformer oil.

Photos courtesy Dept. of Energy

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