Uranium enrichment plant turned back over to DOE control

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved the United States Enrichment Corp. (USEC, NYSE: USU)’s plan to return the remainder of the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion uranium enrichment plant (GDP) to the regulatory control of the Department of Energy (DOE) and to terminate the NRC’s Certificate of Compliance for the plant.

USEC requested termination of its certification in letters to the NRC dated March 15 and June 28. As part of the termination process, USEC will terminate its lease with DOE for the remaining facilities at the plant still under USEC control, including NRC-regulated material.

DOE has agreed to assume regulatory authority over the plant and take possession and ownership of USEC-generated nuclear material at the site. USEC must first certify to the NRC that all material has been transferred to DOE’s possession and ensure proper accounting of all material in the Nuclear Material Management and Safeguards System before the certificate can be terminated.

DOE signed the lease agreement with USEC in December 2006 for the Portsmouth plant to be used for USEC’s $2.8 billion American Centrifuge Plant that is currently under construction. The project is up for a $2 billion DOE loan guarantee.

The Portsmouth plant, located near Piketon, Ohio, was a DOE-owned uranium enrichment plant that was transferred to USEC when that company was created and later privatized in the 1990s. In September 2010, USEC transferred the main process buildings back to DOE control.

USEC’s Lead Cascade and American Centrifuge Plant are unaffected by the termination of the Portsmouth decertification. They remain under NRC license and regulation.

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