he Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant was once the sole source of all uranium enrichment for the United States nuclear weapons and energy programs. As the US Department of Energy prepares to decommission the facility, Paducah, KY faces job loss and a 10 square mile underground plume of heterogeneous contaminants that was created by enrichment operations. Sponsored by a $450,000 DoE Grant through the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research, our Atomic Cities Research Group spent 3 years investigating how Paducah might turn this “problem” into solutions for building a prosperous future.
oncurrent to the academic studios, we led our research team to build a series of interactive scale models that facilitate communication between Paducah’s many stakeholders. The models culminated in the largest one shown here, which shows the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in relation to the surrounding farms, neighborhoods, and Ohio River, as well as the extents of underground contamination, monitoring wells, boring holes, and other key remediation locations. We designed a digitally fabricated model as mutable, interactive tool to track the progress of the PGDP’s complex remediation scenario, and facilitates multi-disciplinary discussions between scientists, agency contractors, policy-makers and the public.
he model shown on this page comes with a toolkit for stakeholders to propose, mark, record and annotate a host of issues directly onto the model. We printed geographical information, notes and data onto plexiglas sheets, using readily available signage printing technology. DoE contractors can easily add or introduce new plexiglas layers printed with remediation progress, site updates, and new data. All 8 model modules are easily dismantled into flatpack pieces and small parts that can be stored inside 4 mobile storage units, which double as easels and partitions.
Photography by Magnus Lindqvist of Glint Studios. Post-Graduate Research Team: Sydney Kidd, Carolyn Parrish, Joe O’Toole, and Maggie Clines