Lockheed Martin to pay $5 million to settle uranium waste allegations
Lockheed Martin will pay to resolve allegations that it has been misrepresenting their compliance with RCRA to the Department of Energy (DOE), knowingly submitted false claims for payment under their contracts with DOE to operate the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Paducah, Kentucky.
The government’s lawsuit alleged that Lockheed Martin violated RCRA, the statute that establishes how hazardous wastes must be managed, by failing to identify and report hazardous waste produced and stored at the facility, and failing to properly handle and dispose of the waste.
The government further alleged that this conduct resulted in false claims for payment under Lockheed Martin’s contracts with the Department of Energy.
Of the $5 million settlement amount, Lockheed Martin will pay $4 million to resolve the government’s False Claims Act allegations and its subsidiaries Lockheed Martin Energy Systems and Lockheed Martin Utility Services will each pay $500,000 in RCRA civil penalties.
Lockheed Martin operated the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant under contracts with the Department of Energy and a government corporation, the U.S. Enrichment Corporation, from 1984 to 1999.
During that time, Lockheed Martin was responsible for the facility’s uranium enrichment operations. Enriching uranium increases the proportion of uranium atoms that can be used to produce nuclear fuel for weapons and civilian energy production. As the name of the plant suggests, the process used was called "gaseous diffusion."
In addition to uranium enrichment, Lockheed Martin was responsible for environmental restoration, waste management, and custodial care at the site, which occupies 3,500 acres in McCracken County, Kentucky.
Uranium enrichment operations ceased at the plant in 2013. The government is working with other contractors to remediate contamination at and near the site consistent with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). ■