Paducah, Ky., August 28, 2002 — Fifty years ago the usual slow pace of late summer in western McCracken County was replaced with frenetic activity as thousands of construction workers toiled around the clock to bring on line the Atomic Energy Commission’s second uranium enrichment facility, the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.
Capitalizing on the sense of urgency that came from a nation on the heels of world war and at the threshold of the atomic age, the plant was partly finished and producing enriched uranium for the nation’s weapons program less than two years after officials chose its location here at the old Kentucky Ordnance Works.
Its role was important then and remains so today as nuclear fuel enriched at the plant helps supply electricity for homes and businesses in the U.S and around the world.
In October, PGDP will celebrate its 50th year of continuous operation. To recognize this accomplishment, the community is holding a 50th Anniversary Celebration for the plant, its workforce and the facilities built to support its mission. These include TVA’s Shawnee Steam Plant, Electric Energy Incorporated’s Joppa Steam Plant and Honeywell’s Metropolis UF6 Conversion Works. Each of these facilities has played a large part in the plant’s success over the past 50 years.
The PGDP 50th Anniversary Celebration will be held October 24 in Downtown Paducah. The central event will be the official unveiling of a new three-panel floodwall mural by artist Robert Dafford commemorating the plants, followed by a 7 p.m. performance by Paducah’s Symphony Orchestra at the Riverfront stage. The evening will culminate with fireworks at 8 p.m. The public is invited to attend.
Local schools will use the anniversary as a focal point to learn more about the history of our region and its role in the atomic age. A Speakers Bureau featuring present and past employees of the plants will be available for teachers who want to add a personal touch to their lesson plans. Paducah Community College is producing a video that will focus on the plant, its impact on the region and the many people whose lives whose lives it has touched. The video will be available for use in schools and in other group settings.
The Celebration is being arranged by a committee whose goals are to engage the region to celebrate the positive impacts the plant has made on the Paducah area for the past 50 years and will continue to make in the future, and to demonstrate the successful long-term relationship between PGDP and the community.
The PGDP 50th Anniversary Committee is chaired by Howard Pulley, retired PGDP General Manager, and Susan Guess, Vice President of Marketing for Paducah Bank, past chair of the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce and former PGDP Public Affairs Manager.