PADUCAH, KY (KFVS) - The Department of Energy announced on Thursday, November 10 they agreed to sell depleted uranium and proposed to build a new facility near its Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.
The DOE will sell the depleted uranium to GE-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment, LLC over a 40-year period. It would be enriched at a proposed GLE facility.
That new facility would use depleted uranium to produce natural uranium which is used for the production of fuel for civil nuclear reactors.
The construction and operation of the proposed $1 billion facility at Paducah could bring about 800 to 1,200 jobs to the community.
"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," said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. "The sale contributes to two key Energy Department mission areas – to fulfill the federal government's responsibility to manage the safe storage and disposal of nuclear material and to enable nuclear power, America's largest source of zero-carbon energy and an important enabler for reduced greenhouse gas emissions."
According to a press release from the DOE's Paducah office, GLE will finance, build, own and operate the Paducah Laser Enrichment Facility adjacent to the Energy Department site.
The facility will be a commercial uranium enrichment production facility under a Nuclear Regulatory Commission license.
DOE's inventory of depleted uranium is safely stored in about 65,000 specialized storage cylinders at the Department's Paducah and Portsmouth, Ohio sites.
"The completion of this agreement is an important step forward for GLE," said Bob Crate, GLE president and CEO. "Securing the right to acquire depleted uranium hexafluoride from the Department of Energy is a key factor in GLE's plans to potentially license, construct and operate the Paducah laser enrichment facility."
The Paducah plant was built in the 1950s to enrich uranium for national security applications, and later enriched uranium for commercial nuclear power generation.
The Energy Department resumed control of the plant enrichment facilities in 2014 after the operator ceased gaseous-diffusion enrichment operations in 2013.