Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

Superfund Site:

PADUCAH GASEOUS DIFFUSION PLANT (USDOE)
PADUCAH, KY

Health & Environment

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What Are the Risks at the Site?

Site investigations found contamination in groundwater, soils, surface water and sediments, both on-site and beyond the site boundaries.

  • In 1988, DOE found technetium-99 in an off-site drinking water well north of PGDP. DOE also found VOCs in nearby private wells and in on-site monitoring wells. DOE placed affected residences and businesses on an alternate water supply. After finding PCBs in on-site surface water and downstream of the plant in Big Bayou Creek and in Little Bayou Creek, DOE took steps to prevent the spread of contaminated groundwater and restrict the use of surface water. In 2020, DOE reported the discovery of Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination in groundwater at the Fire Training Area. PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals of emerging concern due to their persistence in the environment and evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse health effects (http://www.epa.gov/pfas/basic-information-pfas). DOE is planning additional activities to address the sources of contamination and migration of contaminated groundwater (i.e., migration of contaminated groundwater is not under control).
  • All residents and businesses in the Water Policy Area are asked by DOE not to drill a new water supply well, or use any existing water wells, for any purpose. Use of water from wells in the Water Policy Area for drinking, showering, cooking, gardening, and farming activities is not recommended. If these cautions are adhered to, the site's contamination is not anticipated to pose a threat to nearby residents and businesses. Residents and businesses in the Water Policy Area and near-by areas have access to the West McCracken Water District municipal water supply. The district’s water source is the Ohio River. Some residents with groundwater wells unaffected by the site’s contamination also continue to use their wells.
  • Warning signs have been posted along off-site creeks where contamination is present.
  • Since several schools are located near the site, DOE and KDEP evaluated whether potential radioactive contamination posed a risk to children’s health in 2009. The parties did not find any site-related risks at that time.
  • More data are needed to ensure that the site's contamination is not a threat to workers at the site. During 2019 and 2020, DOE is conducting a preliminary risk evaluation of whether vapors from historical releases of TCE in the buildings and from the underlying groundwater contamination may migrate into buildings and pose a potential threat to workers in the PGDP industrial area (i.e., more data are needed to ensure that human exposure is under control). DOE will report the results of that preliminary study in 2021.

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Contaminant Information

View a full list of contaminants of concern for this site.

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Performance Measures

EPA uses performance measures to track environmental results at Superfund sites. If you have any questions or concerns about the measures at this site, please contact the site team members listed under Site Contacts.

Read more about Superfund Remedial Performance Measures.

Performance
Measure
Status at this
Superfund Site
What does this mean?
Human Exposure Under Control Insufficient Data Yes means assessments indicate that across the entire site:
  1. There are currently no unacceptable human exposure pathways; and
  2. EPA has determined the site is under control for human exposure.

No means an unsafe level of contamination has been detected at the site and a reasonable expectation exists that people could be exposed.

Insufficient data means that, due to uncertainty regarding exposures, one cannot draw conclusions as to whether human exposures are controlled, typically because:
  1. Response to the contamination has not begun; or
  2. The response has begun, but it has not yet generated information sufficiently reliable to evaluate whether there are currently any unacceptable human exposure pathways at the site.
Groundwater Migration Under Control No

Yes means EPA reviewed all information on known and reasonably expected groundwater contamination. EPA concluded the migration of contaminated groundwater is stabilized and there is no unacceptable discharge to surface water. EPA will conduct monitoring to confirm that affected groundwater remains in the original area of contamination.

No means EPA has reviewed all information on known and reasonably expected groundwater contamination, and the migration of contaminated groundwater is not stabilized.

Insufficient data means that due to uncertainty regarding contaminated groundwater migration, EPA cannot draw conclusions as to whether the migration of contaminated groundwater is stabilized.

Construction Complete No

Yes means the physical construction of the cleanup is complete for the entire site.

No means either physical construction is not complete or actions are still needed to address contamination.

Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use No Yes means:
  1. All cleanup goals affecting current and reasonably anticipated future land uses of the entire site have been achieved, so there are no unacceptable risks;
  2. All required land-use restrictions or other controls have been put in place; and
  3. The site has achieved Construction Complete status.

No means that one or more of these three criteria have not been met. However, a site listed as no may still have redevelopment occurring on portions of the site and may be eligible for additional redevelopment.

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