GOLDEN, Colo. — Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary cited the former Rocky Flats nuclear plant Monday as a prime example of why she needs to travel abroad on trips that have drawn fire from the Republican-controlled Congress.
The plant's Building 889--which produced plutonium triggers for nuclear weapons for 40 years--is being closed and demolished at a cost of $1.7 million.
By September, the project should leave a flat slab of land about 20 miles northwest of Denver and about 2,300 workers without jobs--something O'Leary said underscores the need for her 16 overseas trips that have cost taxpayers about $4.5 million in the last three years.
"The best course is to get out there where the marketplace is to make sure we're selling some of the technology that's being developed here so the people standing around will know there's another job in sight for them as we move our wares to international arenas," O'Leary said.
O'Leary last week told a House subcommittee that spending $3.2 million on four trade missions to India, Pakistan, China and South Africa was worth it because they helped U.S. energy companies win foreign contracts. She added that she intends to fly to Moscow next month for a meeting aimed at opening energy markets in Russia.