FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 7, 1995
NEWS MEDIA CONTACTS:
Joanne L. Johnson, DOE, 202/586-5806
Barbara Arnold, USEC, 301/564-3354
NUCLEAR STOCKPILE CONVERSION TAKES NEW STEP
The United States today announced a big step in reducing its excess nuclear stockpile, when the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC) began the dilution of highly enriched uranium (HEU) to a lower level for use as commercial nuclear reactor fuel at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon, Ohio.
"We are keeping a commitment made last year to reduce our stockpile of excess military nuclear material," said DOE Secretary Hazel R. O'Leary. "This reduction serves as an example to other nations throughout the world which have also agreed to recycle weapons material for peaceful uses ."
The United States stopped producing highly enriched uranium for use as submarine nuclear fuel in 1991. Since then, the Portsmouth Plant has only been producing low enriched uranium (LEU), exclusively for commercial reactors.
"We are proud to participate in this historic process with the Department of Energy," said William H. Timbers, Jr., USEC President and CEO. "This uranium, which was slated for military uses during the cold war period, will now provide electricity for people throughout the world."
The process of blending down the HEU takes place as part of the production process at the Portsmouth Plant. The HEU, in the form of uranium hexafluoride gas, is being fed back into the plant to reduce the concentration of the uranium-235 isotope, ranging from 20 to 98 percent U-235 (HEU), to about four percent U-235 (LEU) which is suitable for use in commercial nuclear reactors to produce electricity. USEC plans to supply this LEU to its domestic and foreign customers.
USEC is a government corporation that produces and markets uranium enrichment services to more than 60 utilities that own and operate commercial nuclear power plants in the United States and 11 foreign countries. The Corporation is headquartered in Bethesda, Md., and operates plants in Paducah, Ky., and Portsmouth, Ohio.-DOE- R-95-082