The company plans to operate the program at the Portsmouth Gaseous Plant in Piketon. But it is conducting its engineering work in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
USEC leases the Piketon plant from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Meanwhile, startup work at that plant continues, with a small number of centrifuges already built.
They opened about three months ago and were conditioned with uranium hexaflouride gas. USEC plans to introduce uranium gas in the near future.
The test plant is in preparation for the commercial plant USEC plans to open in late 2009.
It wants to have 11,500 machines running by 2012.
“This is an ambitious plan from both a cost and a schedule perspective, and the target estimate assumes cost savings we are working to achieve in 2007,” USEC President and CEO John K. Welch said in a statement. “A year from now, as we begin to finalize manufacturing contracts, we should have more data that will improve our ability to more accurately estimate the ultimate cost of the commercial uranium enrichment plant.”
USEC is operating the program in conjunction with DOE. A 2002 agreement between the two includes a series of milestones and dates for deploying the American Centrifuge program.
For example, an October 2006 milestone called for obtaining satisfactory reliability and performance data from the lead cascade operations.
USEC and DOE are also discussing having a financial commitment for the project in place.
USEC officials say they hope to reach an agreement with DOE regarding the rescheduling of the two milestones and how future progress should be measured.
JEFF BARRON can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 236.