A centrifuge demonstration is complete in Piketon, Ohio, and the workforce there will be reduced, but research, engineering, and testing work will continue in Oak Ridge, Centrus Energy Corporation announced Friday.
The company, which is based in Bethesda, Maryland, said it has completed operations of its three-year demonstration cascade of American Centrifuge machines at its facility in Piketon, Ohio. Now, it will demobilize the demonstration cascade and reduce its workforce at Piketon starting with the layoff of about 60 employees during the week of February 29, Centrus said.
Centrus currently has more than 120 employees working at two dedicated facilities in the Oak Ridge area to engineer, design, and test improvements in full-size machines operating in individual test stands, a press release said. The company’s scientists and engineers will continue to improve the reliability and manufacturability of centrifuge machines for potential future applications, the release said.
“Centrus plans to maintain its critical technological expertise in advanced gas centrifuge uranium enrichment and to continue to develop that technology for national security purposes and to evaluate how best to develop the technology for long-term commercial use,” the release said.
The U.S. Department of Energy announced in September 2015 that it would not fund additional demonstration at Piketon after September 30, 2015, because the cascade had successfully delivered the necessary operational data. Since that time, Centrus has funded ongoing operations while exploring other potential uses for the facility and its unique workforce, the press release said.
In the coming weeks, the company will begin decontamination and decommissioning, or D&D, activities of the demonstration cascade in accordance with its U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission license for the demonstration facility. Centrus plans to maintain its core technical capabilities and preserve its ability to support future nuclear projects at the Piketon site.
It also plans to maintain its construction and operating license from the NRC for a commercial plant to preserve options for the future use of the facility.
In addition, with ongoing funding from DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Centrus plans to continue advancing the technology for national security and energy security purposes at its research and testing facilities in Oak Ridge.
“We believe that the United States must remain a global leader in uranium enrichment technology, and the work of our team at Piketon has made enormous contributions to that effort,” said Daniel B. Poneman, Centrus president and chief executive officer. “This is a painful day for our employees, families, friends, and colleagues, but all should be proud of the great work of our Piketon team. They have met every milestone in this project, which they completed on time and under budget. We will do all that we can to facilitate their transition to new opportunities.”
“We deeply appreciate the unwavering, long-standing support from the community and Ohio’s elected officials for the great work that has been done at Piketon,” Poneman added. “That remains an invaluable asset as we develop other opportunities for the site and our workforce.”
Here is more information from a Centrus press release:
DOE: American Centrifuge is “most technically advanced and lowest risk option”
In an October 2015 report, DOE determined that the United States must restore its uranium enrichment capability to meet long-term national security needs and further determined that the American Centrifuge technology is the “most technically advanced and lowest risk option” for doing so.
ORNL informed Centrus in September 2015 that it intends to extend the company’s contract for ongoing research and testing activities in Oak Ridge through September 2016. Centrus currently has more than 120 employees working at two dedicated facilities in the Oak Ridge area to engineer, design, and test improvements in full-size machines operating in individual test stands. The Company’s scientists and engineers will continue to improve the reliability and manufacturability of centrifuge machines for potential future applications. Centrus plans to maintain its critical technological expertise in advanced gas centrifuge uranium enrichment and to continue to develop that technology for national security purposes and to evaluate how best to develop the technology for long-term commercial use.
As a result of the decision to demobilize the demonstration facility, Centrus will incur costs associated with the D&D in accordance with the requirements of the NRC and DOE, as well as severance and other demobilization costs. Centrus is required to provide financial assurance to the NRC and DOE for D&D and lease turnover costs under a regulatory-prescribed methodology that includes potential contingent costs and reserves. Centrus has previously provided financial assurance to the NRC and DOE in the form of surety bonds of $16.0 million and $13.0 million, respectively, which are fully cash-collateralized by Centrus. The company expects to receive cash as the surety bonds are cancelled following its performance of D&D or reduced based on our satisfaction of lease conditions.
LEU Business Unaffected
The decision to cease demonstration activities will not affect Centrus’ commercial fuel business or its deliveries to utility customers. While Centrus continues to be committed to supporting America’s national security needs, the vast majority of the company’s revenues are generated through the sale of uranium and enriched uranium fuel to power civilian nuclear power plants around the world—meeting customers’ needs through a large, diverse base of supply sources.
Centrus Energy Corporation supplies enriched uranium fuel for commercial nuclear power plants in the United States and around the world.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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