An Open Letter from PRESS to Secretary Bill Richardson,
with a comment by the Uranium Enrichment Project

August 17, 1999

Bill Richardson, Secretary
Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20585

Dear Secretary Richardson

Portsmouth/Piketon Residents for Environmental Safety and Security (PRESS) is requesting that you come to Piketon for an open meeting with residents and workers at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant.

We should like to hear how DOE intends to do to identify residents and workers who have been made ill by the plant and how it intends to compensate them. Shortly before Hazel O'Leary left the Department of Energy, she promised, during a program on C-SPAN to look into the problems of workers at the Portsmouth site and to provide compensation for those harmed. Immediately after the program, PRESS gave her assistant documents referring to plutonium at the site. Nothing has come of her promise. Are you willing to act now that the problems at the gaseous diffusion plants are beginning to be publicly aired?

Also, we should like to know the facts about contamination at Portsmouth. To the best of our knowledge, your agency has still not admitted that Portsmouth received uranium oxide made from irradiated fuel and converted it to uranium hexafluoride in the highly contaminated X-705 Oxide Conversion facility,* although PRESS and the Uranium Enrichment Project indicated this in a letter to you of August 11 and restated it in a press release of August 16. According to DOE spokespeople, Portsmouth received only irradiated uranium that had been purified to a very great extent at Paducah by conversion, and in most cases also enrichment. If your agency will not acknowledge the existence of a well-documented facility, what else is it failing to mention?


Vina Colley, President



*Note from the Uranium Enrichment Project: (August 18, 1999) DOE described the contamination at X-705 in its Report for Environmental Audit Supporting Transition of the Gaseous Diffusion Plants to the United States Enrichment Corporation, June 1993, a document intended to report the status of the Paducah and Portsmouth enrichment plants before the privatization of the United States Enrichment Corporation. "Interviews and visual assessment confirm that the E area, which is in the northeast part of the building [X-705], is sealed and no longer used because of contamination from transuranics. This area was an oxide conversion area and is highly radiologically contaminated." (Appendix A, Volume II: Portsmouth Facilities, p.. 303.)

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