The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act touched nearly 1,000 lives at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Paducah Site, including new and existing workers, vendors, suppliers, and subcontractors.
Brandon Henderson, one of about 240 people hired for full-time work on Recovery Act projects, said his engineering job followed a year of unfruitful searching during the last recession.
“I can’t tell you how grateful I was to find the job because that was my last stop,” said the May 2009 graduate of the University of Kentucky College of Engineering at Paducah.
In late 2009, Randy Scott’s engineering company, Diversified Management Consultants LLC, hired nine engineers involving Recovery Act funding. DMC is a small business teaming partner with LATA Environmental Services of Kentucky, the Department’s cleanup contractor.
“Experience like this from a new engineer’s perspective is hard to find in the Paducah area,” said Scott, Engineering and Technical Services manager for LATA Kentucky. “The Recovery Act afforded them this opportunity.”
Henderson, who grew up in Paducah, now works with the U.S. Enrichment Corp, which enriches uranium at the Paducah Site.
“The Recovery Act work gave me a chance to work with veteran engineers as well as engineers closer to my age,” said Henderson, 30. “Those experiences got me involved in some things that will help in my work here at USEC.”
Other former Recovery Act engineers are with Babcock and Wilcox Conversion Services, which operates a Paducah Site facility to convert depleted uranium hexafluoride (DUF6) into more stable material; and Honeywell Specialty Chemicals in Metropolis, Ill., which manufactures UF6.
“Many others hired as part of the Recovery Act were unemployed or underemployed people whose job skills and marketability were enhanced by the training and expertise gained at the Paducah Site,” said Rob Seifert, the Department’s Recovery Act project director at Paducah.
Workers underwent three months of rigorous training including regulatory compliance, safety systems, hazard communication, hazardous materials handling, using protective gear, and operating mobile equipment. The Paducah Site worked with West Community and Technical College to customize training.
Maintenance mechanics were certified in plasma arc cutting and other types of welding to remove miles of piping from old buildings being cleaned up and torn down with Recovery Act funds. Electricians underwent training to safely track and dismantle long-unused electrical systems.
Brad Morgan, who managed a crew that cleaned up the Paducah Site’s East End Smelter, said the ARRA training and experience helped him get hired at a chemical plant elsewhere in western Kentucky. Morgan left the Paducah Site in January 2011, four months after the smelter was torn down.
All of the nearly $79 million in Recovery Act funding at Paducah went to prime and subcontracts awarded to small business. That included more than 60 equipment and mobile home suppliers, uniform rental stores, and other vendors.