USEC Inc. has entered into a multi-party arrangement with Energy Northwest, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the U. S. Department of Energy (DOE) to extend uranium enrichment operations at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Paducah, Kentucky.

Under the agreements, DOE will provide around 9000 metric tons of high-assay depleted uranium hexafluoride, also known as tails, to Energy Northwest. Energy Northwest has contracted with USEC to re-enrich the tails into about 480 metric tons of low enriched uranium. Energy Northwest will utilize a portion of the low enriched uranium for its Columbia Nuclear Generating Station and will sell the remainder of the U.S.-origin low enriched uranium to TVA for use in TVA’s reactors. TVA will supply the power for the re-enrichment under an agreement to extend the existing USEC-TVA power contract.

John Welch, USEC president and CEO said: “This agreement represents a multipoint win for government and industry that allows taxpayers to realize value by converting depleted uranium tails into an asset. At the same time it provides material critical to our national defense that can only come from U.S. technology.”

The work will take about 12 months and supports a one-year extension of Paducah enrichment operations, USEC said. The overall tails disposal liability of the U.S. government will be reduced as a result of the agreement and subsequent processing.