Ohio University held discussions with the public on future uses of the Portsmouth Site as part of the PORTSfuture process.
Ohio University held discussions with the public on future uses of the Portsmouth Site as part of the PORTSfuture process.

New Grants Fund Continued Research, Outreach for EM's Portsmouth, Paducah Sites

April 20, 2016

The Office of Environmental Management (EM) recently awarded grants to Ohio University and the University of Kentucky to develop publicly available information related to the cleanup of the Portsmouth and Paducah gaseous diffusion plant sites in Ohio and Kentucky.

Dr. Steven Price, University of Kentucky Department of Agriculture/Forestry, presents habitat information to Marshall County High School advance placement ecological science students at the West Kentucky Wildlife Management Area lodge as part of a visit for the Annual Site Environmental Reports project.

The five-year, $2.5-million-dollar grants will also continue public outreach initiated under previous Department of Energy (DOE) grants, including informing stakeholders on cleanup activities and future use of the DOE sites. This work involves OHIO's Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs and its PORTSfuture project, and UK’s Kentucky Research Consortium for Energy and the Environment (KRCEE).  

“The Department of Energy values these university partnerships that provide important research and outreach supporting the cleanup of our gaseous diffusion plants,” Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office Acting Manager Robert Edwards said. “These institutions of higher learning play an important role in helping DOE and communities address challenges and identify opportunities associated with these historic sites.”

A recently launched Virtual Symposium is among the outreach tools used by the Kentucky and Ohio universisties as part of their EM-grant-funded activities.

With the new funding, Ohio University will continue assisting the local community reuse organization and other site stakeholders to inform site cleanup and property transfer efforts while identifying viable opportunities for future use of the Portsmouth Site.  

“A major goal of this project is to provide support to the local community reuse organization in their efforts to realize the citizens’ articulated preferences to reindustrialize the site,” said Stephanie Howe, PORTSfuture program director. “This will support stable, good-paying jobs that contribute to the regional economy and improve the quality of life for many families in the surrounding counties.”

The grants also support educational outreach programs, including work with students at high schools in western Kentucky and in Pike County, Ohio. The high school students prepare summaries of DOE’s Annual Site Environmental Reports for Paducah and Portsmouth to communicate complex cleanup information to the public.

University of Kentucky students and faculty view a video by UK College of Design students that envisions future cleanup strategies to be considered for EM’s Paducah Site.

A recent addition to the PORTSfuture and KRCEE programs, which is continued under the recently awarded grant, is the Virtual Symposium, a portal featuring presentations covering recent activities completed by both OHIO and UK under the DOE grants.

UK is also continuing the development of a virtual museum for the Paducah site. A Portsmouth virtual museum launched in 2012.

Rodney Andrews, director of UK’s Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER), says the funding allows CAER to continue partnering with UK’s College of Design to envision potential cleanup strategies for the Paducah Site.

 “This new DOE grant to support KRCEE is a great example of how CAER is working to improve education, research, and outreach in Paducah,” Andrews said.

This article was modified from the Office of Energy Management newsletter.