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Department of Energy corporation violates Atomic Energy Act

Report: Government violated laws to prop up struggling U.S. uranium enrichment firm USEC

Source: washingtonpost.com
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Department of Energy corporation violates Atomic Energy Act

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The Energy Department, in an effort to prop up a troubled uranium enrichment company, arranged for uranium transfers that failed to comply with laws about fair pricing, national security determinations and limits to prevent the department from flooding the domestic uranium market, the Government Accountability Office said in a report released to the public Monday.

The company, USEC, ceased enrichment activities in May 2013 and declared bankruptcy in March 2014, battered by weak demand from nuclear plants, its outdated enrichment facility in Kentucky and a shortage of capital to invest in new technology and a plant in Ohio.

The GAO examined four transfers of uranium by the Energy Department in 2012 and 2013 that indirectly provided USEC with operating cash. The GAO said that the Energy Department sometimes put a value on uranium transfers — known as tailings — taken from its vast stockpile while other times treating them as worthless or even an environmental liability, the report said.

It said that the department transferred enriched uranium from USEC in March 2012 for what it said were national security reasons, then transferred it back to USEC in March 2013 without obtaining a needed presidential determination.

“Our government has kept this uranium company on life support, wasting money and flouting the law, even though it was clear that it would end up in bankruptcy,” said Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), who sits on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and who requested the study with Rep. Michael C. Burgess (R-Tex.). “This is the kind of government waste that Americans just don’t understand. It’s time to commit this junk technology to the junk bin.”

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