USEC began operations of a lead cascade at American Centrifuge Plant

USEC announced beginning of operations of a lead cascade of its AC100 centrifuges "in a commercial-plant configuration" at its plant in Piketon, Ohio. The machines in the cascade were referred to as "production machines built [...] for the commercial American Centrifuge Plant." It was reported earlier that the lead cascade would consist of 50 AC100 centrifuges.
The American Centrifuge Plant is the only enrichment facility under construction in the United States that uses indigenous U.S. technology. Operations of the lead cascade is a step that is supposed to facilitate approval of a $2 billion loan guarantee that would allow USEC to complete construction of the plant. DoE has not yet approved the guarantee, although it continues to support technology development - it just provided USEC with a $45 million grant for this purpose. (It should be noted that the DoE contribution is not a direct payment.)

UPDATE 03/31/10: DoE is reportedly ready to approve the $2 billion loan guarantee for USEC and Areva.