Last updated: July 25. 2013 9:06AM - 709 Views

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Bob Strickley

PDT Content Manager

USEC Inc. announced Friday that it was unable to reach a deal for the short-term extension of uranium enrichment at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Kentucky and will take steps to begin a shutdown of uranium enrichment at the site by the end of this month.

“While we have pursued possible opportunities for continuing enrichment, (Department of Energy) has concluded that there were not sufficient benefits to the taxpayers to extend enrichment. I am extremely disappointed to say we must now begin to take steps to cease enrichment,” said Robert Van Namen, USEC senior vice president and chief operating officer said in a released statement.

The news was not completely unexpected, but the company did not release the number of employees that would be impacted by the closure of the Paducah, Ky. location.

When reached for comment Friday by the Daily Times, Jeremy Derryberry, a USEC Communications Manager, said the move would not affect operations at USEC’s American Centrifuge Project in Piketon. He said any changes in personnel at the Piketon location due to Friday’s development had already gone through.

“We have actually brought folks over prior to this decision so they have been there for a while,” Jerryberry said.

Jerryberry added that the company’s main concentration has been the Centrifuge Project and the lack of an extension at the Paducah location has done nothing to change that.

“The American Centrifuge has been our primary focus for a while now,” he said.

The Paducah plant is the only U.S.-owned and operated uranium enrichment facility in the United States. USEC leases the plant from the DOE, and will now take steps to cease enrichment at the facility. According to the Friday’s release, work at the Paducah plant will continue through 2014 to manage inventory, meet customer orders and ready the site for return to the DOE.

“We will be working with DOE during the coming months and expect to reach agreement on how to best transition the site. The company and our workforce have unparalleled expertise that should be drawn on. We can provide significant value to the government in making that transition in the most cost-effective and timely manner,” Van Namen said.

Van Namen said the company would continue its role in the Megatons to Megawatts program while work progresses on the ACP in Piketon.

“Our work to commercialize the American Centrifuge technology continues through our research, development and demonstration program with DOE, which remains on schedule and within budget, as we remain on a path to deploy this critical technology,” he said.

Plans to reduce the Paducah location’s workforce are expected to be implemented in the coming months.

“We want to thank our employees and the entire Paducah community for their efforts to support continued enrichment at the plant. Although the community has known about this possibility for a number of years, we recognize that the Paducah area will soon feel the real impact of this decision and its effects on many individuals and families,” said Steve Penrod, vice president of enrichment operations.

USEC Inc., a global energy company, is a supplier of enriched uranium fuel for commercial nuclear power plants.

Bob Strickley can be reached at 353-3101, ext. 296, or bstrickley@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Bob on Twitter @rjstrickleyjr.

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