The first round of layoffs affecting USEC Inc. workers at the companys American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon came Friday as 90 employees were given layoff notices. The furloughs were the result of the U.S. Department of Energys delay in granting a Loan Guarantee for the plant and USECs subsequent demobilization caused by the delay, according to Elizabeth M. Stuckle, USECs director of communications. The job losses left 233 USEC workers on the job as employment stood at 323 before the layoffs. USEC has said it expects to employ 417 full-time workers when the plant reaches anticipated full operations in 2012. The layoffs will be keenly felt in the Piketon-Portsmouth area as USEC employees are paid an average salary of $66,800, according to figures supplied by Angie Duduit, public affairs manager for USECs ACP at Piketon. Some of those who received notices were able to do some work for government services and delay their status on the unemployment rolls, Duduit said. Layoffs of construction workers and those involved in providing supplies for the plant have so far totaled 398, for a total job loss at Piketon of 488 since the DOEs decision in late July to delay the Loan Guarantee. A total of 279 layoffs of supplier/contractor jobs at Piketon have come by Fluor Co., 42 by Honeywell Corp. and 77 by other contractors. In addition, at the USEC Oak Ridge facility in Tennessee, 29 USEC workers and 134 supplier/contractor workers are gone. USEC tests components of the ACP at Oak Ridge, and has existing contracts with suppliers for centrifuge machine components. Supplier/contractor jobs lost associated with the ACP have been 27 in West Virginia, eight in Indiana, 60 in Alabama, 64 in Pennsylvania, two in Utah, 172 in South Carolina (where Fluor is headquartered) and the 134 in Tennessee for a total of 865. A week after saying it wouldnt guarantee a loan for the project, the Obama administration is now offering more time to USEC for its ACP uranium enrichment plant at Piketon. The DOE said in early August it would hold off a final review of the USEC application for at least six months. Before, it had asked the company to withdraw the application and come back again in 12 to 18 months. The DOE now says its giving USEC time to test its technology more fully and line up additional financial support for the project in Piketon. USEC officials have said completion of the ACP is in serious jeopardy without the $2 billion Loan Guarantee from the government to continue with financing of the plant.
G. SAM PIATT can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 236.