DOE says no path to funding for ACP at this time

16 October 2009

The US Department of Energy has said that it does not see a path to providing the $30 million in technology demonstration funding for Usec’s American Centrifuge Plant at this time.

In late July DOE said it would be willing to invest up to $45 million over the next 18 months for Usec to support ongoing ACP technology demonstration activities. This was due to begin with $30 million requested from Congress for FY 2010.

In a 15 October update statement DOE said that Congress did not provide the funding needed for the work.

“In the recently completed FY2010 energy and water appropriations conference report, Congress did not provide the $30 million needed for this work.

“In addition, Usec announced on September 28th that the centrifuges in Piketon had to be taken offline and disassembled due to a flaw in their manufacturing process. Usec has indicated that it will be several months before the centrifuges can be rebuilt with new parts and testing can start over. For both of these reasons, the Department does not see a path to providing the $30 million in technology demonstration funding at this time.”

The DOE also announced at the beginning of August an agreement with Usec to delay a final review on the company’s loan guarantee application for the American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon, Ohio until a set of technical and financial milestones have been met. That agreement remains in place.

In a statement on 28 September, Usec president and chief executive officer John K. Welch said the firm continues to believe the American Centrifuge technology.

“We are working to address the issues that concerned DOE so that we can update our application to the Loan Guarantee Office in early 2010. Upon resolution of DOE’s issues, we will ask the Loan Guarantee Office to act promptly on our application.”

The statement outlined USEC’s near-term goals for the American Centrifuge project:

• Successful start up of the AC100 lead cascade testing programme by early 2010 using the upgraded production machines.

• Maintain a manufacturing infrastructure to meet the needs of the lead cascade testing programme and have a process in place to support potential remobilization.

• Continue development efforts to further improve reliability of the AC100.

• Reduce perceived project risk and take other steps to improve our financial structure.

• Negotiate contracts with suppliers that can provide greater certainty of cost and schedule and develop a revised project plan.

Also at the end of July, the Department of Energy announced an investment worth about $150 to $200 million per year for the next four years to expand and accelerate cleanup efforts of Cold War-era contamination at the Portsmouth uranium enrichment facility adjacent to the ACP. This investment, on top of the base budget and Recovery Act funding, is expected to create 800 to 1000 new jobs on the Portsmouth site. The Department continues to move forward with this plan.


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