"The certificate issued from the NRC for the gaseous diffusion uranium enrichment plants are for five years at a time. What this represents is another renewal of the certificate," Elizabeth Stuckle, director of corporate communications, said.
USEC's current certificate was set to expire Dec. 31. The company is now recertified through December 2013.
"Even though we are not operating an enrichment plant there at Piketon under that certificate, just to do the contract work we do for DOE (Department of Energy) requires the NRC to issue a certificate," Stuckle said.
USEC has had an NRC-issued certificate since the mid-1990s.
In consultation with DOE and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the NRC is also required to submit a report on the operation of the plants to Congress.
"Every time (the NRC) reissues our certificate they have to do an evaluation of us. (The NRC) also issues a report to Congress. The report stated in its finding, 'in combination with the existing certificate conditions, USEC provides reasonable assurance of adequate safety, safeguards and security and compliance with NRC requirements'," Stuckle said. "That's the findings from their review. (The NRC) does not just hand out certificates. This is positive news they (NRC) once again found we provide the safety and security that we should."
With the renewed certificate it will allow the company to continue the work it has been doing for years. "This gives us a stamp of approval by the NRC on our operations," Stuckle said.
USEC's enrichment operations at the Paducah plant set production records in 2007. Enrichment is the process by which the concentration of the fissionable uranium isotope, U-235, is increased in order to make fuel for nuclear power plants. In Piketon, USEC provides contract services to DOE to help prepare the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant for decontamination and decommissioning.