United States Enrichment Corporation, a subsidiary of Centrus Energy Corp. has returned full control of the 750-acre uranium enrichment complex near Paducah, Kentucky to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

United States Enrichment Corporation had leased the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant from DOE since it was privatized by the U.S. Government in 1998 and enriched uranium there for the global nuclear fuel market until May 2013. DOE has responsibility for the decontamination and decommissioning of the 60-year old complex and has contracted with Fluor Federal Services, Inc. to begin deactivation activities at the site.

"For more than a decade, United States Enrichment Corporation employees in Paducah operated this plant at record-high levels of productivity in a safe and environmentally responsible manner," said Steve Penrod, vice president of American Centrifuge for Centrus and former general manager at Paducah. "When enrichment ceased in 2013, this same team came together to safely and diligently wind down operations and work closely with DOE to effect a smooth and successful de-lease and return of full control of the site to DOE."

Turnover activities began in May 2013 when United States Enrichment Corporation ceased enrichment at the plant because its high cost of operations made it uncompetitive in a depressed global nuclear fuel market. In early 2014, the Company began the process of repackaging inventory and moving it to other licensed storage locations. All transfers of enriched uranium product to off-site licensed locations were completed by April 2014. Other turnover activities and facility preparations continued in anticipation of a fall 2014 turnover to DOE.

John Castellano, interim president and chief executive officer of Centrus, added, "With the successful handover of the Paducah plant complete, Centrus can focus on serving its utility customers, improving its business and maintaining the American Centrifuge technology for national security needs and future commercial deployment. We are well positioned to deliver value to our customers and shareholders as a smaller company with a stronger balance sheet."

Centrus is the new, post-bankruptcy successor to USEC. Previous USEC chief executive officer, John K. Welch, retired on 17 October. Former director Mikel Williams has been named chairman of the new company's board.

Date: Wednesday, 22 October 2014
Original article: neimagazine.com/news/newspaducah-returned-to-us-doe-4414095