Kentucky Research Consortium for Energy and the Environment (KRCEE)

About Us

The Kentucky Research Consortium for Energy and Environment (KRCEE) was created in 2003 through the efforts of Senator Mitch McConnell and the Kentucky Congressional Delegation to offer innovative and technically sound solutions to problems facing the environmental restoration and continued economic use of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PGDP) and its surrounding areas.

Challenges to government agencies and the environmental industry are immense as historical PGDP uranium enrichment activities resulted in extensive disposal of contaminated and radioactive materials, the largest solvent and radioactively contaminated groundwater plumes in the DOE complex and world that couple with unique subsurface geochemical conditions which differ significantly from those of studied and remediated sites.  Recent and emerging challenges related to the PGDP include the shutdown of plant enrichment operations in 2013, the demolition and disposal of contaminated facilities & media, the re-use of the facility and the replacement of several thousand jobs that have supported the Jackson Purchase and Paducah economies for the last six decades.

KRCEE is administered by the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) and managed by professional staff and faculty at the University of Kentucky.  KRCEE operations, tasks and projects are developed in collaboration with the Department of Energy (DOE), academia, industry, subject-matter experts, stakeholders and the regulatory community.  KRCEE's tasks and projects offer independent technical considerations and recommendations to problems facing the environmental restoration and re-use of the PGDP that are not addressed by existing contracts or regulatory requirements.

KOW Acid Facility

FIGURE 1.A. KOW Acid Facility
Prior to PGDP Construction, the Kentucky Ordinance Works (KOW) produced gunpowder for WWII and was located in Western McCracken County on land shared with the present PGDP facility and the West Kentucky Wildlife Management Area (WKWMA).


KRCEE tasks and projects include:

Information Technology Development to Support PGDP Environmental
Restoration and Re-use

Data Access, Assessment and Visualization - development and delivery of the Paducah Data Warehouse and GIS system (DWGIS) for allowing GIS access to the extensive environmental PGDP database. The system is now operated by DOE and its contractor, LATA Kentucky as the Paducah Environmental Geographic Analytical Information System (PEGASIS)

Support of Paducah DWGIS - Ongoing project involves final development and release of a "Risk Tool" that will be added to the Paducah's PEGASIS system to allow for risk characterization, evaluation and reporting for environmental data.

KRCEE Website Development, Deployment, and Maintenance - Involves the KRCEE website and provision of all project materials, reports and data to the web and public.

Development of PGDP Virtual Museum - Ongoing project that involves website development detailing the history of PGDP operations and remediation.

Ecological Sciences

Ecological Science - compilation of studies, data, and reports into digital database with information-based recommendations for future evaluation of ecological impacts from PGDP operations.

Ecological Science 2- Ongoing efforts include evaluation of raccoon populations for polychlorinated biphenyl impacts and amphibian populations from contaminated surface water and sediments in the watersheds surrounding PGDP.

Geoscience and Engineering

Geophysical Methods to Support Site Activities - Instrumental nationally with the development of shallow seismic P-wave and S-wave methods applied to the extent of the PGDP and its environmental impacts. Defined the subsurface relationship of past seismic activity and subsurface displacement with the paths of PGDP’s extensive off-site groundwater plumes.

Seismic Monitoring and Data Collection conducted in collaboration with the Kentucky Geological Survey and UK Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. This project installed and monitored an expanded set of Seismic monitoring stations in the Jackson Purchase Region. Data is being used to update and refine the understanding of Jackson Purchase seismic events with focus on the PGDP.

Central United States Seismic Observatory was installed and is monitored in collaboration with DOE, USGS, and KGS in order to characterize seismicity trends from bedrock to ground surface in the centroid of the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ). Station is the NMSZ mid-continent equivalent of deep-monitoring stations on the San Andreas fault system in California. Located in Sassafras Ridge near the “bootheel” of Kentucky.

Seismic Hazard Assessment Projects included development of and recommendations for the application of quasi-deterministic seismic hazard assessment methods for the NMSZ and Kentucky versus currently applied probabilistic seismic hazard assessment methods.

Geology and Hydrogeology

Lithostratigraphy - Projects include long-term compilation, classification and database development for the PGDP and its environs.  Recently completed and submitted 800,000 record digital lithological database identifying subsurface material types, lithologic, stratigraphic and hydrogeologic horizons.  Draft classifications of aquifer materials and horizons were utilized in the 2008 PGDP Groundwater Model Update and 2010 & 2012 pump and treat optimization activities.

Hydrogeology - Participation in PGDP Groundwater Modeling Working Group and independent evaluation of PGDP groundwater models used to predict results of future groundwater contaminant extent from naturally occurring and remedial actions.

Groundwater-Surface Water Interaction Projects conducted from 2003 - current evaluated extent, concentrations, and trends associated with the discharge of contaminated groundwater to surface water approximately 3 miles down-gradient of the PGDP industrial site.  Recent seep sample evaluations indicate an order of magnitude decrease in the contaminant concentrations over the last 10 years.  Ongoing evaluations are relative to the impacts of pump and treat actions on seep trends via development and demonstration of long-term water level and contaminant trends in the entire watershed up-gradient of the seeps.

Groundwater Technology Development and Application - Bench-scale development and demonstration of oxidative and reductive technologies to remediate TCE and 99Tc groundwater contamination and commensurate development of ex-situ water treatment applications.

TCE Fate and Transport Project 1 - Collaborative project that utilized industry, EPA, academic, & DOE subject-matter experts in groundwater contamination, geochemical contaminant degradation, and microbial degradation of groundwater contaminants.  Identified intrinsic, microbial, aerobic co-enzymatic degradation of TCE in PGDP groundwater as a significant TCE degradation process. Recommended future actions to exploit the natural process in order to enhance the remediation of PGDP’s dissolved-phase TCE groundwater contamination.

Soil Characterization and Remediation Projects developed and demonstrated the application of field instrumentation to guide soil/sediment projects from characterization thru remediation and clean-up verification in one field mobilization versus typical 3-4 years of existing project life cycles.

Soil and Sediment Remediation Projects - utilized historical site data for contaminants, topography, and flows to develop site-specific, low-cost , sediment and surface water release mitigation strategies for the PGDP industrial site, site watersheds, and surface-water ditches.

Education & Public Outreach

Future Use: Atomic Cities - Project researched, identified and proposed high-tech re-use possibilities for the PGDP and PGDP infrastructure.  Invited as part of Kentucky River Cities Project for international display at the International Architecture Biennale in Rotterdam, Netherlands, 2011 alongside exhibits from Sao Paulo, Amsterdam, the Nile Valley, Rio de Janiero, and New York City.

PGDP Property Acquisition Study - Completed for and submitted to Congress, this project evaluated acquisition of property impacted or potentially impacted by PGDP operations.  Involved subject matter expertise in real-estate, property valuation, law, groundwater modeling and remediation.  Public participation and attendance in this project surpassed that of any historical DOE public outreach activities.

Paducah Future Vision Project - An extensive public participation project conducted to educate the public about site activities, impacts and future use and identify public opinions related to past use, environmental and economic impacts, and future site use.  Public involvement in this project exceeded all previous site-related projects involving public participation.

High School Student Annual Site Environmental Report (ASER) Summary is an ongoing project introducing Marshall County High School AP Environmental Science and Physics students to environmental impacts, remedial and regulatory activities at the PGDP.  Students will produce a public-friendly ASER document as final project.

Virtual Symposium Execution - This will present via the internet videos with explanations and results of completed Projects and Tasks.

Large-Scale PGDP Site Models - development of physical scale models of the PGDP, groundwater plumes, above-ground infrastructure, historical groundwater plumes, and groundwater monitoring locations.

PGDP GW Accomplishments Boards - This involved preparation of presentation materials and boards summarizing groundwater cleanup accomplishments at the PGDP and explaining the development of Large-Scale PGDP Site Models.

TCE Fate and Transport 2 - An ongoing project that involves preparation of a final report with future biogeochemical and degradation-related geochemical monitoring recommendations for TCE Fate and Transport at the PGDP.  Project involves extensive data compilation and subsurface modeling of historical & current conditions as basis for characterization and recommendations.