Article excerpt

USEC Responds to 'HEU Deal' Article

To the Editor:

A few clarifications are in order regarding your article, "Clinton Protects Russian 'HEU Deal' Assets," (ACT, July/August 2000).

As noted in the article, the United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC) acts as executive agent to commercially implement the Megatons to Megawatts program (the Russian "HEU Deal") at no cost to the taxpayer.

Since privatization in July 1998, a series of global market changes have resulted in lower prices, lower demand, and increased price competition for enrichment. Like any business facing these challenges, USEC must cut costs to remain competitive. Despite government constraints and politics, we have taken steps to downsize our workforce and announced that we will consolidate operations at our Paducah, Kentucky, plant and cease enrichment at our Portsmouth plant by June 2001. We have also taken other cost-cutting measures, such as renegotiating electric power contracts (electricity accounts for more than half our cost of production).

Contrary to the assertion in your article, neither these deteriorated market conditions nor the plant closure decision means that USEC is taking action to "avert impending bankruptcy." We have strong fundamentals, robust cash flow, and over $6 billion in customer backlog. Like any other well-run business, we are reducing costs in order to remain competitive.

The Megatons to Megawatts HEU purchase program is a seven-year success story, albeit with occasional issues and problems along the way. …