WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today praised the inclusion of $150 million in Research, Development & Deployment funds for the American Centrifuge Plant (ACP). The funds will help ensure that the ACP is in the strongest position possible to receive a loan guarantee from the Department of Energy (DOE), which would help create 4,000 jobs in Southern Ohio. The Piketon site will also receive more than $120 million in cleanup funds through the DOE Office of Environmental Management program.
“This takes us one step closer to realizing the 4,000 jobs that would be created through the American Centrifuge Project, but our fight for these jobs is far from over,” Brown said. “I will continue working with business and community leaders to ensure that there is a path forward for ACP.”
The budget also includes $206 million in cleanup funds to help the site attract future economic development by reducing the threats to health, safety, and the environment posed by contamination and waste at the former DOE weapons complex. Brown has led the fight in Congress to accelerate the Piketon cleanup and to create new jobs. He successfully secured an expedited timeframe for the cleanup, moving the completion date up by more than 20 years. As a result of Brown and President Obama’s efforts, cleanup funding at Piketon doubled, including $118 million in cleanup funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Federal funds for Piketon have helped to create more than 275 jobs in the region.
Late last year, the Senate proposed, with support of the Administration, to include $150 million in Research Development & Deployment funds for ACP, but the House rejected this bipartisan approach. In December, Brown and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced a bill to advance the ACP. The bill would provide $150 million in RD&D funds by reprogramming $106 million of existing DOE funds while utilizing $44 million of assets at Piketon in the form of “tails,” a byproduct of uranium enrichment.
The proposal would allow the Department of Energy to utilize assets owned by USEC – in the form of “tails”,– to secure additional RD&D funding to continue to position ACP in the strongest position possible for approval of a loan guarantee. There are more than 700,000 tons of uranium tails contained in cylinders located at Portsmouth site. Brown’s plan would direct the DOE to contract with USEC to re-enrich uranium tails and use their value to secure addition RD&D funds for ACP. Last year, the stockpile of uranium tails was estimated to be worth $7.6 billion. While the price of uranium has dropped in recent year, the tails are still estimated to be worth billions of dollars.
Brown first suggested this approach – utilizing existing resources – in a letter to DOE on October 31, 2011. In April 2009, he introduced legislation with Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) to help realize the monetary value of tails housed at Portsmouth and the now-closed Paducah facility.
Brown is working closely with USEC and DOE to advance the American Centrifuge Project. Earlier this year, in letters to White House Chief of Staff William Daley and Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew earlier this year, Brown emphasized that an expeditious loan approval process would ensure the domestic enrichment of uranium for national security activities. At the end of 2010, Brown urged the Obama Administration to move forward in approving the loan guarantee for the American Centrifuge Plant (ACP) and to fully fund cleanup at the former Gaseous Diffusion Plant. In 2009, Brown worked with DOE to reach an agreement that resulted in DOE devoting $45 million in new funds to advance the ACP. In October 2010, Brown visited Piketon. A week later, DOE announced that efforts to secure a loan guarantee for USEC have taken a significant step forward. DOE and USEC had reached a framework for further discussions.