BETHESDA, Md. - USEC Inc. (NYSE: USU) announced today that it has chosen Piketon, Ohio as the site for its state-of-the-art American Centrifuge uranium enrichment plant. The plant is expected to cost up to $1.5 billion, employ up to 500 people and reach an initial annual production level of 3.5 million SWU by 2010.
Anticipated to be the world’s most efficient enrichment technology, the American Centrifuge will play a major role in improving USEC’s competitive position. The Company’s existing uranium enrichment plant in Paducah, Kentucky will continue to be the heart of its business for the remainder of the decade and a key element in this nation’s energy security.
USEC plans that the procurement associated with the American Centrifuge program will be principally U.S.-sourced, yielding hundreds of additional highly skilled jobs throughout the United States. An important attribute of the program is that centrifuge equipment procurement, manufacturing and installation will be conducted in partnership with highly qualified American companies, assuring maximum protection against any risk of proliferation.
The American Centrifuge also offers substantial production cost savings compared with gaseous diffusion. Electric power currently represents more than half of USEC’s production cost; the American Centrifuge will use only about 5 percent of the electricity required by a comparably sized gaseous diffusion plant.
“The American Centrifuge is an investment in the future of U.S. national security and energy security, the nuclear power industry, USEC and the State of Ohio,” said USEC President and CEO William H. Timbers. “We were fortunate to have had the option of two first-class sites and workforces in Piketon and Paducah. The Ohio proposal offered the right mix of economic benefits, existing infrastructure, assurances concerning seismic conditions and schedule advantage for this important new facility. While the Piketon site provides us with the best opportunity to bring the American Centrifuge plant online quickly and efficiently, we will continue to rely on the Paducah plant as a vital production source.”
Timbers added, “I want to thank Governor Bob Taft and former Governor Paul Patton and their economic development teams for their hard work. Also, thanks to Congressman Rob Portman and the entire Ohio and Kentucky congressional delegations, state and local lawmakers, community leaders and USEC employees for their support of the American Centrifuge. We have received more than 13,000 letters of support from the local communities.”
Today’s announcement follows USEC’s decision in July to accelerate by one year its construction and operation schedule for the American Centrifuge plant. USEC is currently manufacturing and testing key centrifuge components at its facilities in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and the Company plans to submit its license application for the plant to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in August 2004. As a modular technology, the American Centrifuge’s production capacity can be readily expanded beyond the targeted 3.5 million SWU (separative work units) level as necessary.
In 2005, USEC expects to begin operating the American Centrifuge Demonstration Facility, a plant prototype that will provide important cost, schedule and performance data before USEC begins construction of the commercial plant. The demonstration facility, also to be sited in Piketon, will contain a lead cascade of full-size centrifuge machines. A lead cascade is the basic building block of a commercial enrichment plant.
“USEC’s decision to bring its commercial American Centrifuge Plant to Piketon is great news for the state of Ohio,” Governor Taft said. “The Portsmouth GDP facility has been vital to southern Ohio for some 50 years, providing good jobs for those who rely on it for their livelihood. I’m pleased that USEC has recognized the tremendous assets of this community, this facility and its prospective workforce.”
Ohio Congressman Rob Portman said, “This is great news for the Piketon plant and the people of Portsmouth, as well as the State of Ohio. The American Centrifuge is a billion dollar investment in our state and creates hundreds of new jobs and will make an important contribution to our nation’s energy security. With its world-class workforce and facilities, the Piketon plant is the ideal home for this new technology. I commend the USEC Board and USEC’s CEO, Nick Timbers, for the confidence they have shown in the plant and its people. This decision is a winner for everyone involved.”
“The American Centrifuge will reinforce USEC’s long-term position as the global leader in the uranium enrichment marketplace,” Timbers said. “It represents the first of what I hope will be a new generation of nuclear power construction projects in the United States. Increasingly, America is recognizing the need to boost the use of nuclear power to support our energy independence and to protect national security.”
This news release contains forward-looking information (within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995) that involves risks and uncertainty, including certain assumptions regarding the future performance of USEC. Actual results and trends may differ materially depending upon a variety of factors, which are described in USEC’s periodic filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These SEC filings are available on USEC’s website www.usec.com.
USEC Inc., a global energy company, is the world’s leading supplier of enriched uranium fuel for commercial nuclear power plants.
Elizabeth Stuckle (301) 564-3399
Charles Yulish (301) 564-3391