The United States Enrichment Corporation today 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 for about a year at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Paducah, Ky.
Under the agreements, DOE will provide depleted uranium hexafluoride, also knownas tails, to Energy Northwest. Energy Northwest has contracted with USEC to re-enrich the tails into 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 low enriched uranium to TVA for use in TVA’s reactors, including reactors that are used to produce tritium, a vital component for maintaining the U.S. nuclear deterrent.
TVA will supply the power for the re-enrichment under an agreement to extend the existing USEC-TVA power contract.
"USEC is pleased to deliver on one of its stated objectives to extend Paducah operations on an economically sound basis," said John Welch, USEC president and CEO. "This agreement represents a multipoint win for government and industry.”
The agreement converts U.S. government depleted uranium into nuclear fuel to power and light homes in the Pacific Northwest and the Tennessee Valley and delays costs to the U.S. government associated with maintaining the facility in safe shutdown if it were to cease enrichment operations at the end of this month. It continues USEC’s position as TVA’s largest industrial electricity customer while minimizing any impact on the domestic uranium market.
“This is a complex deal, and on behalf of the USEC employees whose jobs will be saved, I want to thank all the parties that came together to execute this business transaction that will serve our nation’s near-term national security needs,” said Steven R. Penrod, USEC vice president of enrichment operations. The Paducah plant employees 1,200 regional workers.
Members of Kentucky’s Congressional Delegation took time today to commend the agreement. A release from Senator Rand Paul's office states:
This one year extension will allow time for public officials and the community to formulate plans for productive use of the DOE site once uranium enrichment activity ceases. While today’s announcement is important, it is critical that this planning be accelerated so that the workforce and the community prepare for the eventual closing of operations.