By Frank Lewis
In an article published in Roll Call, Randy Leonard writes that Senate appropriators want to allocate $110 Million for the American Centrifuge Project at Piketon formerly headed by USEC, Inc. According to the report, the bill stalled last month, but it is possible that the allocation could survive in other spending legislation.
The report goes on to say, with dim prospects for the passage of the Energy-Water bill, Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), said he hoped to secure enough funding to maintain the current operations under an expected continuing resolution that would keep the government running into 2015.
“We’re trying to get into the CR some language,” Portman said. “Keep enough spinning so that you have the capability there.”
The Daily Times enquired what that allocation would mean to the ACP project and received the following response.
“On May 1, USEC signed an agreement with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to continue cascade operations in Piketon, Ohio and core American Centrifuge research and technology activities in Tennessee through the end of the federal fiscal year, September 30, 2014. Under the American Centrifuge Technology Demonstration and Operations Agreement, or ACTDO Agreement, USEC is maintaining the American Centrifuge technology capability as a subcontractor to ORNL. The agreement calls for fixed-cost funding of approximately $33.7 million for the remainder of this fiscal year, with an option for two, six-month extensions (into Fiscal Year 2015), which would need to be funded by appropriations.”
The response goes on to say - “Fiscal Year 2015 funding to continue to operate and preserve the American Centrifuge technology has been approved by the full House Energy and Water Appropriations Committee. The Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee has also approved funding, but the full committee has not yet approved. If an Energy and Water appropriations bill is not passed, there is a likelihood that funding could be included as part of a continuing resolution, as mentioned by Senator Portman in the article. Funding for the ACTDO agreement and the RD&D program that preceded it have been provided incrementally through various means over the past three years.”
The response closes with - “The U.S. Department of Energy continues to work on developing a long-term strategy to meet the nation’s needs for enriched uranium that can be used for national security purposes. One of the options under consideration is the building and operating of a number of centrifuge machines (referred to in this article as a national security train) to provide an inventory of available un-encumbered low enriched uranium. Due to international treaties that are in place, only U.S. enrichment technologies may be used to produce enriched uranium for national security use. American Centrifuge is the only U.S. enrichment technology in operation at this time.”
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 1928, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.