"'Crunch Time' at Troubled Nuclear Fuel Plant"

"U.S. Enrichment Corp., which produces fuel for nuclear power plants, is having its own sort of meltdown. Disillusioned investors have wiped out 95 percent of the company’s market value since 2007. Standard & Poor’s has saddled it with a dismal CCC-plus credit rating.

And USEC’s chief executive John Welch says that “clearly we’re coming to crunch time here.”"

"When USEC was created by the U.S. government in the 1990s, the idea was to privatize the job of uranium enrichment. USEC leased an old Energy Department plant and under a program known as Megatons to Megawatts, it has blended down highly enriched uranium taken from 17,698 Russian warheads under a U.S.-Russia treaty.

Two decades later, however, the Bethesda-based firm is still struggling to stand on its own two feet. Its deal for inexpensive supplies from dismantled Russian nuclear weapons runs out at the end of 2013. A contract for electricity from the Tennessee Valley Authority expires in May and USEC’s outdated plant — which devours as much electricity as the city of Nashville — will be unable to compete with other companies."

Steven Mufson reports for the Washington Post January 13, 2012.

 

Source: Wash Post, 01/16/2012