Lawmaker joins with Rep. Pearce in bipartisan amendment to stop the USEC nuclear bailout

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee and senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, released the following statement after the Department of Energy (DOE) announced details of a transfer of free uranium that will be enriched and sold by United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC) at its Paducah, Kentucky facility. USEC recently notified DOE that it would have to end its enrichment operations at the Paducah facility later this year because it does not currently have enough business to warrant operations beyond May 2012. Additionally, USEC was warned this week that it was in danger of being de-listed by the New York Stock Exchange. Reps. Markey and Stevan Pearce (R-N.M.) filed an amendment today to eliminate the $150 million earmark for the Ohio USEC facility in the National Defense Authorization Act being debated this week in the House.
“USEC is supposed to stand for the United States Enrichment Corporation but it has become the United States Earmark Corporation,” said Rep. Markey. “DOE says that it needs to bail out troubled USEC to get tritium for our bloated nuclear weapons program. But when DOE analyzed several options for making fuel that would be used to obtain tritium, it actually found that using highly enriched uranium that would be down-blended by Nuclear Fuel Services—the company that currently produces nuclear fuel for the U.S. Navy’s fleet of aircraft carriers and submarines—would cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars less than obtaining the services from USEC. We have other options and there is simply no reason to continue to bail out this near-bankrupt company.”
In January 2012, Rep. Markey expressed his opposition to the continued support of the floundering United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC), following steps by the Department of Energy to free up $44 million for USEC to keep itself afloat. Rep. Markey, in a letter sent to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, cited the poor bond rating, significant problems with the technology, and concerns about USEC’s partnerships with Russia and their ties to the Iranian nuclear program as reasons that the facility may never reach full commercialization.
A timeline of Rep. Markey’s work on USEC can be found HERE.