PDT Staff Report
WASHINGTON, D.C. — At Tuesday’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing regarding the nomination of Ernest J. Moniz to be the Secretary of Energy, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) highlighted the importance of the American Centrifuge Project.
“With regard to the American Centrifuge Project, as you know, I’ve been involved with this for the last decade, and it’s something that’s critical for our energy security…but it’s also critical for our national security,” Portman said.
Moniz agreed with Portman that the United States must have the technology for a fully domestic source of enriched uranium to support our nuclear weapons program and the Navy nuclear reactors program, saying, “it’s a requirement that we have American origin technology for enrichment.”
Portman also discussed with Dr. Moniz the cleanup of the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon. Moniz agreed to maintain the uranium barter program which has helped to pay for cleanup activities at the gaseous diffusion facility.
The cleanup project is a 10 to 15-year project which currently employs more than 2,000 people. Last year, Portman worked with Secretary Chu to increase the uranium barter program to help cover a gap in appropriated funding. The uranium barter program allows the Department of Energy to barter or sell natural uranium into the open market and use the proceeds to pay for cleanup work at Piketon.
The increased uranium barter program will raise more than $200 million by the end of this fiscal year. This funding will help to preserve employment at the site and ensure that the cleanup stays on schedule.