The US Department of Energy (DOE) has agreed to sell depleted uranium to GE-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment (GLE) for use at its proposed commercial uranium enrichment production facility.
Over a 40-year period, the depleted uranium will be enriched for producing natural uranium, which will be used for the production of fuel for civil nuclear reactors.
The proposed GLE facility would be built near DOE’s Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in western Kentucky, US, under a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) licence. GLE will finance, construct, own and operate the facility.
Upon completion, the new Paducah Laser Enrichment Facility (PLEF) is expected to create nearly 800 to 1,200 jobs to the local community.
Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said: “This agreement furthers the Energy Department’s environmental cleanup mission while reducing cleanup costs, creating good local jobs, and supporting an economical enrichment enterprise for our energy needs.
“The sale contributes to two key Energy Department mission areas, to fulfil the federal government’s responsibility to manage the safe storage and disposal of nuclear materials and to enable nuclear power, America’s largest source of zero-carbon energy and an important enabler for reduced greenhouse gas emissions.”
The Office of Environmental Management (EM) is to complete the safe cleanup of the environmental legacy brought about from five decades of nuclear weapons development and government-sponsored nuclear energy research.
The DOE’s Paducah plant was built in the 1950s to enrich uranium for national security applications, and later enriched uranium for commercial nuclear power generation.