U.S. Department of Energy shuts down American Centrifuge Plant at Piketon

U.S. Department of Energy is shutting down the American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon, Ohio, with a cascade of 120 advanced AC100 centrifuges, operated by Centrus Energy Corp. (formerly USEC). The cascade began operations in March 2010.

According to a statement issued by Centrus, the new contract between the company and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which is acting on behalf of DoE, reduces funding of the American Centrifuge project "by about 60% to approximately $35 million per year" and does not include funds for the AC100 cascade operation in Piketon. The new contract will continue to fund some "development activities in Oak Ridge, Tennessee."

A DoE representative was quoted as saying in an e-mail that "the Department has been evaluating the availability of existing enriched uranium supplies for tritium production, among other options, for meeting national security needs. DOE has concluded that sufficient supplies exist to extend the date by which additional enriched uranium would be needed for national security missions." However, DoE "will continue its efforts to preserve the option to deploy the AC100 centrifuge technology in the future, while using additional uranium from the inventory to provide schedule contingency for the eventual reestablishment of a domestic uranium enrichment capability."