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DOE Announces Policy for Managing Excess Uranium Inventory

March 12, 2008 - 10:52am

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WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman today released a Policy Statement on the management of the Department of Energy's (DOE) excess uranium inventory, providing the framework within which DOE will make decisions concerning future use and disposition of its inventory.  During the coming year, DOE will continue its ongoing program for downblending excess highly enriched uranium (HEU) into low enriched uranium (LEU), evaluate the benefits of enriching a portion of its excess natural uranium into LEU, and complete an analysis on enriching and/or selling some of its depleted uranium.  Specific transactions are expected to occur in the near future.  Consistent with applicable law, DOE will review the impacts of particular sales and transfers from its excess uranium inventory on the market and the domestic uranium industry, before undertaking these sales and transfers.

"Substantial increases in market prices for uranium in recent years have made the Department's excess uranium inventory a valuable commodity," Secretary Bodman said.  "We will manage this commodity in a prudent manner that recognizes a variety of factors including our national security interest, Departmental missions, realities of the global marketplace, and impacts on domestic industry, while assuring that transactions involving this inventory yield the best economic value for DOE and the American taxpayers."

The Policy Statement commits DOE to manage its excess uranium inventories in a manner that: (1) is consistent with all applicable legal requirements; (2) maintains sufficient uranium inventories at all times to meet the current and reasonably foreseeable needs of Departmental missions; (3) undertakes transactions involving non-U.S. Government entities in a transparent and competitive manner, unless the Secretary of Energy determines in writing that overriding Departmental mission needs dictate otherwise; and (4) is consistent with and supportive of the maintenance of a strong domestic nuclear industry.

The Policy Statement also confirms the position set forth in the draft uranium sales strategy posted by DOE in Fiscal Year 2007.  That is, as a general matter, the introduction into the domestic market of uranium from Departmental inventories in amounts that do not exceed ten percent of domestic demand in any one year period should not have an adverse material impact on the domestic uranium industry.

The Department has a significant inventory of depleted, natural and enriched uranium that is excess to U.S. defense needs and located at various DOE sites across the nation.  This uranium is equivalent to approximately 59,000 metric tons of natural uranium.  DOE's uranium inventory is expensive to maintain and secure, and is in various forms, many of which are not readily usable.  This uranium inventory was acquired over the years from defense programs, uranium enrichment, and other activities.  Under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, DOE has broad authority to loan, sell, transfer or otherwise utilize the uranium in its inventory.

To read the Secretarial Policy Statement, as well as other related DOE materials, visit the Office of Nuclear Energy.

Media contact(s):

Angela Hill, (202) 586-4940

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