The only domestic U.S. uranium-enrichment company on Monday said it plans to seek bankruptcy within months, the New York Times reports.
The company, USEC, still plans by 2017 to wrap up development of a new-generation enrichment centrifuge. However, its latest financial move could complicate efforts to secure federal funding for the American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon, Ohio, beyond $257 million in Energy Department grants awarded since 2011, according to the newspaper.
Control of the centrifuge project might go to the Energy Department as a result of the bankruptcy. It is unclear, though, if Washington would push the enrichment initiative forward to completion, the Times reported. The effort is already 12 years behind schedule, and its projected $6.5 billion expense is nearly four times greater than its original $1.7 billion cost estimate.
Still, the United States might continue advancing the effort to help ensure a secure supply of tritium, a hydrogen isotope critical for boosting the explosive power of U.S. nuclear weapons. The material decays at a regular rate, meaning that more must be continually harvested from fuel rods in Tennessee Valley Authority power reactors if warheads are to be maintained.
The Obama administration and some U.S. lawmakers have said that under international agreements, the United States can use only uranium refined with its own technology as a source of tritium. Several analysts have contested that view, though, arguing that the United States could extract tritium from uranium enriched within its borders using European-origin equipment.
This article was published in Global Security Newswire, which is produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.
What We're Following See More »
Along party lines, the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted to tighten privacy standards for Internet service providers. "The regulations will require providers to receive explicit customer consent before using an individual’s web browsing or app usage history for marketing purposes. The broadband industry fought to keep that obligation out of the rules."
President Obama commuted the sentences of another 98 drug offenders on Thursday. Most of the convicts were charged with conspiracy to distribute drugs or possession with intent to distribute. Many of the sentences were commuted to expire next year, but some will run longer. Others are required to enroll in residential drug treatment as a condition of their release.
The Department of Justice announced today it's charged "61 individuals and entities for their alleged involvement in a transnational criminal organization that has victimized tens of thousands of persons in the United States through fraudulent schemes that have resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. In connection with the scheme, 20 individuals were arrested today in the United States and 32 individuals and five call centers in India were charged for their alleged involvement. An additional U.S.-based defendant is currently in the custody of immigration authorities."