CINCINNATI (CN) – The Sixth Circuit allowed Kentucky homeowners to pursue their claims that a nearby uranium-enrichment plant lowered their property values. The court reversed summary judgment for private contractors of the government-owned Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, ruling that state trespassing law lets homeowners try to recover their diminished home values.
Union Carbide Corp., Lockheed Martin Energy Systems and other contractors have taken turns running the plant, which sits on 3,425 acres in McCracken County, about 10 miles outside of Paducah, Ky. Since it opened in 1952, it has produced more than 1 million tons of uranium and chemical byproducts that have contaminated the surrounding groundwater, surface water and soil.
The Department of Energy has reportedly spent $388 million in clean-up costs and expects to shell out another $1.3 billion by 2010.
Nearby residents filed a complaint in 1997, alleging intentional trespass, permanent private nuisance, strict liability, emotional distress and outrageous conduct. The circuit remanded, saying a jury should decide whether the homeowners suffered harm and are entitled to damages. See ruling in Smith v. Union Carbide Corp.