PDT Staff Writer
Officials with Fluor-B&W Portsmouth announced Tuesday a plan to offset $68 million in proposed government budget cuts for 2013.
The Obama administration’s 2013 budget proposal includes the $68 in cuts from the Decontamination and Decommissioning (D&D) program in Piketon and Fluor-B&W Portsmouth is the contractor for that project.
“The site traditionally gets about $480 million to do its business from the Department of Energy (DOE). That money comes from two sources: annual appropriations and from uranium barter,” said Dennis Carr, deputy program manager of Fluor-B&W Portsmouth. “With uranium barter we sell uranium on the market. We are able to gain returns on that to help fund the project.”
He said the site was funded about $480 million in 2012. Of that, $200 million came from uranium sales.
Carr said DOE will allow Fluor to sell 2,400 metric tons of uranium, up from 1,650 metric tons. He said there is about 13,000 metric tons of uranium inventory at the Piketon plant that is sellable.
He said uranium sales should increase about $90 million a year because of this agreement.
“This does not mean we will be able to realize this in the first year, but the bottom line is that it will be able to offset the reduction in appropriations,” Carr said. “As a result of that we are planning at the same level of funding for next year (2013).”
He said there are some issues with the increased funding.
Fluor will now be required to repackage the uranium from thin-walled to thick-walled cylinders.
“That sounds easy but is a very difficult process,” Carr said. “We are using 60-year-old equipment at the site and any time you go liquid on UF6 (uranium) you have to be concerned because it’s a very hazardous material.”
Carr said because of the stable funding plan, Fluor will be increasing a shifts in one of the buildings.
“We currently have one crew in there. We have just brought on board a second crew. We are right now posting positions for increasing up to four shifts of people who will be physically removing the equipment from that building for shipment,” Carr said.
He said the potential for that is to have people working five to seven days a week, 24 hours a day, within the next three to six months.
He said even though 2013 funding appears to be stable they are planning to release 100 staff augmentations by the end of the fiscal year in October.
“If you just looked at Fluor-B&W employees, which right now is about 1,400 with about 600 staff augmentations for a total staff of 2,000, staff augmentation will come down 100,” Carr said. “FBP will adjust itself but by the end of the year we will be up about 60 employees.”
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 208, or email@example.com.