Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Energy announced today that it will open negotiations with Global Laser Enrichment (GLE) for the sale of the depleted uranium hexafluoride inventory. The Department determined that GLE offered the greatest benefit to the government among those who responded to a Request for Offers (RFO) released earlier this year.
Through the RFO review process, the Department also decided to enter into negotiations with AREVA for the off-specification uranium hexafluoride inventory.
“Today, after months of hard work and ahead of our anticipated end-of-year decision, I am pleased to announce that the Department has selected GLE and AREVA for potential projects that provide value to American taxpayers by reducing the costs of cleanup at the sites and creating high-paying technical jobs in the State of Kentucky,” said Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman. “These selections represent an important next step as the Department continues planning for potential future uses and ongoing cleanup efforts at the Paducah site.”
GLE uses a new laser uranium enrichment technology leased from a developer in Australia and has proposed licensing, constructing and operating a facility that could potentially provide significant compensation to the department for its depleted uranium hexafluoride inventories, as well as supporting U.S. policy interests and utilization of the Paducah site. The GLE offer also included the potential lease or use of existing Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant facilities, infrastructure and utilities.
The company’s commercial operation also has the potential to produce substantial economic benefit to the Paducah region through the addition of highly skilled technical jobs and increasing the local tax base.
The AREVA proposal utilizes its nuclear fuel fabrication facility in Richland, Washington, to process the off-specification uranium hexafluoride as blend stock for domestic nuclear reactor fuel. AREVA has well-established technology and licensed operations for blending this type of material with other uranium feed material.
GLE and AREVA were selected following an RFO for the sale of depleted and off-specification uranium hexafluoride inventories, issued in July. The materials are currently housed at the Paducah, Kentucky, and Portsmouth, Ohio, Gaseous Diffusion Plant facilities. The RFO built on an Expression of Interest released earlier this year that provided the Department with confirmation that a number of parties are interested in utilizing the uranium inventories and potentially in using land or facilities at the Paducah site.
PHOTO: The Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant opened in 1952 as a government-owned, contractor-operated facility, producing enriched uranium to fuel military reactors and for use in nuclear weapons. (USEC photo)