The U.S. Department of Energy is seeking proposals from companies for the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant to try to cut costs while preserving some or all of the 1,200 jobs at the the uranium enrichment site.
An emailed release from the DOE details a formal request for proposals from companies that want to lease or purchase the facility for commercial purposes.
Lease or purchase of DOE Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant facilities or land near Paducah, Kentucky, either to continue the use of the facilities to enrich uranium, or separately for other nuclear fuel industry applications (e.g., analytical laboratory, uranium transfer and shipping facility) or to utilize individual facilities (e.g., buildings, warehouses, machine shops, utilities) for other commercial purposes.
Purchase, exchange, or transfer of various lots of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) inventories in standard and non-standard cylinders from the DOE PGDP and the DOE Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PORTS). These inventories include large amounts of high-assay depleted UF6 (DUF6) and smaller amounts of slightly enriched and normal assay off-specification UF6. All of these materials are free from any prior obligations. In addition, DOE also has large amounts of low-assay DUF6 available. This request for EOIs pertains only to the inventories of uranium identified in this EOI and no other DOE uranium inventories; for example, it does not pertain to DOE inventories of natural UF6 and is unrelated to the ongoing transfer of UF6 in exchange for cleanup work at PORTS.
Any combination of the above two bullets (e.g., use of a portion of the DUF6 in the enrichment operations at the PGDP).
This announcement is connected to a July 31st, 2012 Paducah Gaseous Diffusion commercial industry workshop sponsored by the DOE.
The United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC) is operating the plant on a temporary contract after a multi party deal was struck in May, 2012. USEC's arrangement is with Energy Northwest, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the U. S. Department of Energy (DOE), and extended uranium enrichment operations for about a year. The DOE expects that USEC will return essentially all of the PGDP facilities to DOE in the very near term.
This week the Paducah Area Community Reuse Organization (PACRO), which was created by the Department of Energy to offset any loss of jobs from the PGPD, announced plans to release funds to support several job creating initiatives in the Purchase Region.
The Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant operates on more than 3,500 acres 12 miles west of Paducah. PGPD has operated continually as a uranium enrichment plant for 60 years.