With a reduction in funding by the federal government, Centrus Energy Corp. has announced their new reduced contract with Oak Ridge National Laboratory will not include continued operations of America’s only operating cascade of advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges in Piketon.
Funding will be reduced by approximately 60 percent to $35 million per year, and the scope of activities will be limited to development activities at Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
“While obviously we are disappointed by the decision to significantly downsize America’s advanced centrifuge program, we appreciate the Laboratory’s recognition that the technology has been effectively demonstrated over the last two years of hard work at Piketon,” Centrus Vice President Steve Penrod , who oversees the American Centrifuge program for the company, said. “We will work with the Laboratory and with Congress to protect as much of the core capabilities of the program as possible so that the technology will remain ready for deployment when the U.S. government calls upon it for national security purposes.”
Centrus confirmed Friday that Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has informed Centrus that it intends to extend its contract with the Company at a reduced level for research on the world’s most advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges. DOE’s decision to provide reduced funding will support continued developments of the company’s American Centrifuge technology which company officials say has long-term importance for national and energy security.
The new contract will cover the period from Oct.1, 2015, to Sept. 30, 2016, with the possibility for additional extensions.
“In the coming weeks, we will explore options to protect the technology and our workers in Ohio, whose expertise, creativity, and dedication represent an invaluable asset for the Nation,” Daniel B. Poneman, president and CEO of Centrus, said. “Cuts to our workforce would impose hardship on families and communities, while jeopardizing future progress. We will do all that we can to ease transitions while preserving as much of our scientific, technical, and industrial expertise as we can with the available funding.”
Centrus anticipates that it will incur costs, which are being evaluated, associated with the reduction in workforce and the further demobilization of the program. Should closure of the Piketon, Ohio, facility be required, Centrus would incur still further costs associated with that closure and return of the facility in compliance with U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission requirements and pursuant to its lease with DOE.
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101 ext 1928.