Friday, July 31, 2009

USEC: Gets No DOE Loan Guarantee - Halts Uranium Plant

The American Centrifuge Plant was to include approximately 11,500 AC100 machines that were to be housed in existing buildings at the Piketon, Ohio site, below right.
USEC Inc, the nation’s only domestic uranium enrichment firm, will halt its half-finished $5 billion uranium enrichment plant in Ohio. USEC needed a $2 billion Department of Energy (DOE) loan guarantee to proceed with construction of its American Centrifuge Plant, located on land leased from DOE in Piketon, Ohio. USEC has spent $1.5 billion on the project, which is meant to replace the aging enrichment plant that USEC leases from DOE in Paducah, Ky.

DOE “encouraged USEC to withdraw its application for loan guarantee funding,” which DOE provides to various types of energy projects with clean air properties.

DOE will offset the job losses at the 750-employee centrifuge construction effort by spending $150-$200 million more to accelerate cleanup efforts at the contaminated Piketon site.

Last month, USEC’s government service division reached an agreement with Duke Energy, Areva, UniStar Nuclear Energy LLC and a local development group to pursue construction of a new nuclear power plant at Piketon. The new reactor project is unaffected by DOE’s loan guarantee decision. Three companies with potential interest in USEC assets are Urenco—the German-Dutch-UK uranium enricher—Areva, and EnergySolutions, the diversified Utah-based nuclear cleanup firm.

Meanwhile, USEC’s main competitors, Urenco Ltd., Areva and General Electric, are moving to build enrichment plants in the United States.Urenco is building a uranium enrichment plant in Eunice, N.M., and Areva has applied for a DOE loan guarantee for a new plant it plans to build at Idaho Falls. GE has teamed with Japan’s Hitachi and Canada’s Cameco Corp. in a laser enrichment plant to be built in Wilmington, N.C. (The Energy Daily, 7/29/09)

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