United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

USEC Inc. Gas Centrifuge

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For further information on the U.S. Enrichment Corporation (USEC) Gas Centrifuge facilities, contact us.

Gas Centrifuge Deployment

The USEC Inc. objective is to replicate the existing U.S. technology and reduce costs using advances in carbon fiber and other material and manufacturing technologies. The USEC Inc. program would be performed in three phases:

  1. a demonstration phase entirely under DOE auspices and regulatory control;
  2. the American Centrifuge Lead Cascade Facility (Lead Cascade) phase; and
  3. the commercial deployment of the American Centrifuge Plant (ACP) phase.

The demonstration phase, which is primarily being conducted by USEC Inc. in Oak Ridge, TN, is intended to provide detailed test data for the gas centrifuge machines. The Lead Cascade phase is intended to provide reliability information on a group of machines and the auxiliary systems as they would be used in commercial operations. The Lead Cascade, consisting of up to 240 centrifuges, will recycle the enriched and depleted uranium it produces. The only uranium withdrawals from the cascade will be in the form of small samples. In February 2003, USEC Inc. submitted its license application for the Lead Cascade to the NRC. After conducting detailed safety, security, and environmental reviews, the NRC granted USEC Inc. a license for the Lead Cascade in February 2004. USEC began operating the Lead Cascade in August of 2006.

In the commercial deployment phase, the commercial plant (ACP) would have a capacity of 3.8 million separative work units (SWU) per year, with an upper U-235 enrichment limit of 10 percent. USEC Inc. submitted a license application for the ACP in August 2004. The Lead Cascade and the ACP are primarily housed in DOE's existing Gas Centrifuge Enrichment Plant (GCEP) site, located at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant site in Piketon, Ohio.

On December 7, 2006, the U.S. Department of Energy and the United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC) entered into a supplemental lease agreement specifically applicable to facilities, areas, and personal property at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant site in Piketon, Ohio, used for the construction and operation of USEC Inc.'s ACP and its Lead Cascade. USEC Inc. is the parent corporation.

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Application Review

The American Centrifuge Plant

USEC Inc. submitted an application to the NRC for the American Centrifuge Plant on August 23, 2004. On October 7, 2004, the Commission issued an Order initiating the USEC Inc. proceeding for the ACP. The Order offered an opportunity for a hearing, provided a licensing schedule, and addressed several policy issues applicable to uranium enrichment facility licensing. Consistent with the Commission’s Order, the ACP License Review Schedule was developed.

Safety and Security Licensing Review

On February 7, 2005, NRC completed its initial technical safety and security reviews of the license application for the proposed American Centrifuge Plant and issued a request for additional information (RAI) to USEC Inc. On March 9, 2005, USEC Inc. provided responses to the RAIs. The NRC documented its safety and security reviews in a safety evaluation report that was issued on September 11, 2006.

The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board held its mandatory hearing in March 2007, and
rendered its decision authorizing the staff to issue a license for the USEC ACP in April 2007
The staff issued the license on April 13, 2007.

Environmental Review

NRC develops, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for "major Federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment." Licensing a uranium enrichment facility is considered a "major Federal action," requiring an EIS. For more information about the NEPA and the environmental review process, see Frequently Asked Questions About NRC's Role Under the National Environmental Policy Act.

The NRC staff held a public meeting on the scope of the EIS for the proposed American Centrifuge Plant (ACP) on January 18, 2005, in Piketon, Ohio. The public was encouraged to provide comments on the NRC's scoping process. A Scoping Summary Report was published on April 28, 2005. On February 23, 2005, NRC issued RAIs related to the environmental review, to which USEC has provided several responses.

The NRC has completed its preliminary environmental review and solicited public comments beginning on September 9, 2005, and ending on October 24, 2005. In addition, the NRC staff hosted a public meeting in Piketon, Ohio on Thursday, September 29, 2005, from 7:00 - 9:45 P.M. to solicit additional comments from interested members of the public. The staff’s environmental review is documented in "Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon, Ohio". The public meeting transcript, public statements submitted at the public meeting, the NRC’s slides and Comments on the DEIS were considered as the NRC developed its final environmental impact statement which was issued in May 2006.

Additionally, the NRC completed its NEPA review with the National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 consultation requirements as outlined in 36 CFR Part 800.8. Please see the NRC’s Summary of Section 106 Correspondence and Surveys. The NRC has also consulted with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). On November 1, 2005, the NRC provided the FWS with its finding of "no effect" on listed species and critical habitat. The FWS provided its concurrence on November 16, 2005.

The Lead Cascade

USEC Inc. submitted an application for the Lead Cascade facility on February 11, 2003. On January 27, 2004, a Notice containing the Finding of No Significant Impact and an announcement of the availability of the Environmental Assessment for USEC Inc.'s license application for its Lead Cascade facility was published in the Federal Register. The Safety Evaluation Report for this facility was issued on January 28, 2004. The NRC issued Material License SNM-7003 to USEC Inc. for this facility on February 24, 2004, after DOE approved the lease on February 17, 2004, allowing USEC Inc. to refurbish and subsequently operate the facility in accordance with its license application.

On August 25, 2006, the NRC assumed regulatory oversight of the Lead Cascade facility from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in accordance with the March 24, 2004, Memorandum of Understanding entitled "Cooperation Regarding the Gas Centrifuge Lead Cascade Facilities at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant." Transition of regulatory oversight from DOE to the NRC authorizes USEC Inc. to introduce uranium hexafluoride into the Lead Cascade.

NRC/DOE Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Lead Cascade and American Centrifuge Plant

On March 24, 2004, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Department of Energy signed a Memorandum of Understanding to foster cooperation regarding the Gas Centrifuge Lead Cascade facilities at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant site. On March 21, 2007, the NRC and DOE signed a similar Memorandum of Understanding regarding the American Centrifuge Plant.

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Public Involvement

Meeting Schedule

For upcoming meetings, see also our Public Meeting Schedule. Information for the meetings on this page are available at this Web site or in the Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS) if an accession number is given.

Meeting Archive

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Meetings and Other Interactions Between USEC and NRC
Meeting Date Subject
01/23/2008 American Centrifuge Lead Cascade Facility, Changes to Security Program and Facility Data and Approval (TAC L32403)
01/14/2008 02/21/08 Notice of Meeting: NRC/USEC Inc. Senior Management Meeting to Discuss the Status of USEC's Activities for the American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon, Ohio
07/09/2007 USEC Inc. Quarterly Management Meeting
10/18/2006 Public Meeting on the ACP License Application - Final EIS and SER
10/04/2006 USEC Inc. Quarterly Management Meeting
05/09/2006 USEC Inc. Quarterly Management Meeting
01/12/2006 USEC Inc. Quarterly Management Meeting
09/25/2005 Environmental Review Draft EIS Public Comment Meeting in Piketon, OH
09/14/2005 USEC Inc. Nuclear Criticality Safety Meeting
09/13/2005 Quarterly Management Meeting with USEC Inc.
08/08/2005 Closed Meeting Summary with USEC Inc., NAC International and the Department of Energy on the Reporting of Proprietary Information to the Nuclear Materials Management and Safeguards (NMMSS)
06/17/2005 USEC INC. Quarterly Management Meeting
05/25/2005 USEC Inc. Response to NRC Request for Additional Information
05/25/2005 Criticality Safety
05/25/2005 Decommissioning Funding
03/01/2005 USEC Inc. Quarterly Management Meeting
01/18/2005 ACP Environmental Review Scoping Meeting in Piketon, OH
11/29/2004 USEC Inc. Quarterly Management Meeting
07/14/2004 Meeting with USEC Inc. to Discuss Nuclear Criticality Validation for USEC Inc.'s Proposed American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon, OH
06/23/2004 Meeting with Local Officials Related to USEC's Proposed Enrichment Plant in Piketon, Ohio
06/23/2004 Public Meeting in Piketon, Ohio, on USEC Inc's Proposed American Centrifuge Plant
04/15/2004 USEC Inc.'s Proposed License Application for its American Centrifuge Plant

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Transfer of License

On February 10, 2009, USEC Inc. submitted a request for NRC’s consent to transfer control of license Nos. SNM-7003 and SNM-2011 from USEC Inc. to a subsidiary, limited liability company, American Centrifuge Operating, LLC. In addition, the Licensee requested NRC’s approval of changes to the Lead Cascade and the ACP Material Licenses, License Applications, and Security Program documents to reflect changes in the USEC Inc. corporate structure and the proposed change of licensee. No physical or operational changes to the Lead Cascade or the ACP were being proposed.

By letter dated November 25, 2009, USEC withdrew its request.

The following is a list of correspondence applicable to this licensing action:

Date Document
12/11/2009 Federal Register Notice on Withdrawal
12/03/2009 NRC Acknowledgement of Receipt of Request to Withdraw
11/25/2009 USEC Inc. Request to Withdraw Transfer Request
06/17/2009 Draft Financial Assurance Instrument Associated with License Transfer Request
06/12/2009 Supplement to Request for Written Consent to Transfer of Licenses
04/04/2009 Federal Register Notice on License Transfer Application and Consideration of Approval of Application Regarding Proposed Corporate Restructuring and Conforming Amendment and Opportunity to Provide Comments and Request a Hearing.
03/27/2009 Acceptance of USEC Inc. Request for NRC Consent to Transfer Control of Material Licenses
02/10/2009 USEC Inc. request for transfer of license

On September 10, 2010, USEC Inc. submitted a new request for NRC's consent to directly transfer control of licenses Nos. SNM-7003 and SNM-2011 from USEC Inc. to a subsidiary, limited liability company, American Centrifuge Operating (ACO), LLC. Upon NRC’s approval of the transfer, USEC will make conforming changes to the License Applications, and Security Program documents to reflect ACO as the licensee. No physical or operational changes to the Lead Cascade or the ACP are being proposed.

On February 10, 2011, NRC issued an order approving the transfer of the two referenced licenses, subject to various conditions.

The following is a list of correspondence applicable to this licensing action:

Date Document
02/18/2011 Federal Register Notice (76 FR 9613) on Order to Transfer Licenses
02/10/2011 Safety Evaluation Report: Direct Transfer of Licenses for American Centrifuge Plant and Lead Cascade Facility
02/10/2011 Order Approving Transfer of Licenses
02/10/2011 Letter to Peter Miner: Review of USEC Inc. Request for Written Consent to Transfer Material Licenses
02/09/2011 Letter to Mr. Geoffrey Sea: Response to Comments on USEC Inc.’s Request to Transfer Radioactive Material Licenses From USEC Inc. to American Centrifuge Operating, LLC
02/04/2011 Summary of Public Meeting With USEC Inc. and Ohio Sierra Club to Discuss the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Process for Reviewing USEC Inc.’s Request to Transfer Material Licenses
01/04/2011 Mr. Geoffrey Sea’s Comments on Behalf of Southern Ohio Neighbors Group on USEC Inc.’s Request to Transfer Licenses: Top Ten Reasons why NRC Should Investigate and Reject USEC's License Transfer Request
12/05/2010 Comment (1) of Enid Nagel & Patricia A. Marida on behalf of Ohio Sierra Club, Regarding Docket ID NRC-2010-0355, the application by USEC, Inc. to Transfer License to Operate the Lead Cascade Facility & American Centrifuge Plant
11/12/2010 Federal Register Notice (75 FR 70300) on Receipt of a License Transfer Application and Consideration of Approval of Application Regarding Proposed Corporate Restructuring and Conforming Amendment and Opportunity to Provide Comments and Request a Hearing
10/05/2010 Acceptance Review of USEC Inc. Draft Financial Assurance Instrument
10/05/2010 Acceptance of USEC Inc. Request for NRC Consent to Transfer Control of Material Licenses
09/16/2010 Draft Financial Assurance Instrument Associated with License Transfer Request
09/10/2010

USEC Inc. request for transfer of license

Additional Correspondence and Documents

Additional Correspondence
Date Subject
04/13/2007 License for the USEC Inc. American Centrifuge Plant
04/10/2005 NRC Approval of USEC Inc.’s Request for Withholding Information from Public Disclosure for the American Centrifuge Plant (TAC Nos. L32306, L32307 and L32308)
03/21/2007 Memorandum of Understanding Between the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Regarding Roles and Responsibilities for the American Centrifuge Plant
12/28/2005 NRC Approval of Usec Inc.’S Request for Withholding Information from Public Disclosure for the American Centrifuge Plant (TAC Nos. L32306, L32307, L32308, and L32312)
10/13/2005 NRC Approval of USEC Inc.'s Request for Withholding Information from Public Disclosure for the American Centrifuge Plant
08/28/2005 Issuance of the ACP Environmental Scoping Summary Report
06/06/2002 Policy Issues Associated with the Licensing of a Uranium Enrichment Facility
Page Last Reviewed/Updated Tuesday, October 21, 2014