USEC has announced that the Portsmouth gaseous diffusion plant in Ohio will be the site of a $150 million lead cascade centrifuge uranium enrichment facility.
USEC said it chose the Portsmouth site over the sister plant in Paducah, Kentucky, in part because of existing buildings from the previous testing, and in part because Portsmouth has less risk of an earthquake. President and chief executive officer William Timbers said "cost and schedule were key factors in determining the location of the new facility." USEC ceased uranium enrichment production at Portsmouth in 2001, and consolidated operations at Paducah. Portsmouth remains on standby, with 1350 workers maintaining it, doing environmental cleanup, and transfer and shipping work.
The company plans to seek a licence from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) early in 2003. Construction of the test facility would begin in 2004, with operations starting in 2005. USEC said that the test project would bring about 50 new jobs. The company has promised to build a permanent plant by 2010. A permanent operation would employ 500-600 people, and would cost $1-1.5 billion.