PIKETON, Ohio (AP) The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on April 13 issued a construction and operating license for USEC Inc.’s American Centrifuge Plant, which will enrich uranium in southern Ohio.
Enrichment is the process by which uranium is made into fuel for nuclear power plants. The license is good for 30 years.
USEC, based in Bethesda, Md., is developing the American Centrifuge enrichment project at a former atomic weapons plant in Piketon, approximately 65 mi. south of Columbus. The company estimated the project would cost $2.3 billion, and the plant would employ more than 400 people.
“With plans under way for more than 30 new reactors around the country, a stable, domestic source of enriched uranium is vital,” said John K. Welch, USEC president and chief executive officer.
American Centrifuge is only the second major nuclear facility to be licensed in the past three decades under the NRC’s licensing process for uranium enrichment facilities.
USEC plans to begin operations at the plant in late 2009, concentrating uranium isotopes into forms that can be used as fuel. The project would also generate tons of radioactive waste — enough over 30 years to fill 41,000 cylinders weighing approximately 14 tons (12.7 t) apiece, according to the NRC.