Loan Request by Uranium-Enrichment Firm Upends Politics as Usual By MATTHEW L. WALD Published: November 24, 2011
But the company, based in Bethesda, Md., points out that it provides nuclear fuel to one reactor for which foreign fuel or fuel from a foreign-owned company cannot substitute, because of rules against nuclear weapons proliferation.
That reactor, a civilian one owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority, is used by the Energy Department to make tritium, a perishable material for nuclear bombs. (Submarine and aircraft carrier reactors can use highly enriched uranium from old inventories, some of it left over from decommissioned weapons.)
John R. Longenecker, a consultant in the nuclear fuel business, said the problem for USEC was that there were too many other players in the market in a world awash in enrichment capacity. The industry had hoped for a renaissance that would result in many more reactors, he said, but “if that happened, I blinked and missed it.”
And there are large inventories of highly enriched uranium from decades of past production, much of it from decommissioned weapons. “We’ve got 100 years of high-enriched uranium in storage,” Mr. Longenecker said. With additional material coming out of uranium weapons, there is enough “probably for 1,000 years of whatever naval fuel we need.”
Important Notices: By registering on this website,
visitors agree to abide by the rules outlined on our Rules
page. Messages posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums and
Journals are the opinions of the individuals who post them, and do not necessarily
represent the opinions of Democratic Underground, LLC.