USEC Inc. announced that it had not been able to conclude a deal for the short-term extension of uranium enrichment at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Kentucky, and the company will begin ceasing uranium enrichment at the end of May. USEC leases the plant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
"While we have pursued possible opportunities for continuing enrichment, DOE has concluded that there were not sufficient benefits to the taxpayers to extend enrichment. I am extremely disappointed to say we must now begin to take steps to cease enrichment," said Robert Van Namen, USEC senior vice president and chief operating officer.
"We will continue to meet our customers' orders from our existing inventory, purchases from Russia under the historic Megatons to Megawatts program and our transitional supply contract with Russia that runs through 2022," Van Namen said. "In addition, our work to commercialize the American Centrifuge technology continues through our research, development and demonstration program with DOE, which remains on schedule and within budget, as we remain on a path to deploy this critical technology."
USEC will take steps to cease enrichment at the Paducah plant over the next month and to prepare the plant site for return to DOE. USEC expects to continue operations at the site into 2014 in order to manage inventory, continue to meet customer orders and to meet the turnover requirements of its lease with DOE.
"We will be working with DOE during the coming months and expect to reach agreement on how to best transition the site. The company and our workforce have unparalleled expertise that should be drawn on. We can provide significant value to the government in making that transition in the most cost-effective and timely manner," Van Namen said.
USEC expects to begin reducing its workforce at the plant in the coming months. The Company will begin notifying workers as the specifics of the transition activities are defined. USEC anticipates maintaining a workforce at the site into next year to support ongoing operations, perform transition activities and meet regulatory requirements.
"We want to thank our employees and the entire Paducah community for their efforts to support continued enrichment at the plant. Although the community has known about this possibility for a number of years, we recognize that the Paducah area will soon feel the real impact of this decision and its effects on many individuals and families," said Steve Penrod, vice president of enrichment operations.
"For 60 years, Paducah employees and the community have supported our national security and energy security. For now, at least, that mission is ending, but we are committed to working with the community and DOE for the smoothest possible transition that positions the plant site for its future role in the area's economy.
"We want to thank members of the Kentucky delegation and our unions, the United Steel Workers and the Security, Police & Fire Protection Professionals, all of whom have worked tirelessly on behalf of the employees at this plant. We fully expect they will now recommit to helping the community create the next economic chapter for this site."