The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Paducah, Kentucky
Saturday, August 04, 2001

USEC denies plans to sell plant
The company's president met with Exelon Nuclear CEO the day after workers rejected a contract offer, prompting rumors.

By Joe Walker jwalker@paducahsun.com--270.575.8650

USEC says rumors that it wants to sell its Paducah uranium enrichment operation to Exelon Nuclear, part owner of Three Mile Island reactor, are unfounded.

The rumors swirled Friday as USEC President and Chief Executive Officer William Timbers toured the Paducah plant with Oliver Kingsley Jr., Exelon president and chief nuclear officer. Their visit came a day after the plant energy workers union resoundingly rejected a USEC contract offer.

Charles Yulish, USEC communications vice president, said the Kingsley visit merely was one of about 100 tours the plant hosts yearly to help nuclear utility customers, legislative and community leaders and other VIPs better understand the process of enriching uranium.

"Oliver Kingsley visited the plant today as hosted by Nick," Yulish said Friday. "He is one of the most brilliant nuclear power people in the world today. He's never been to a plant that supplies all the enriched fuel in the United States. It was suggested that he go, and he took us up on it."

Exelon, which operates 10 nuclear stations and 17 reactors with a capacity of 17,000 megawatts, is among four large electricity firms lobbying the Bush administration to allow an agent from their industry to buy uranium taken from Russian nuclear warheads, according to Nuclear Fuel magazine. USEC, now the sole buyer for the uranium, which it resells to utilities, wants to remain sole agent and lower Russian prices.

Union leaders say USEC's wanting to include success of the Russian deal in language for a new, five-year contract was a key reason why virtually all 670 voting workers rejected the proposal Thursday night. The offer called for the contract to expire after a year if USEC did not achieve any of three goals remaining as sole agent, lowering prices and getting approval to buy commercial Russian uranium along with the warhead material.

Yulish said the trip was not an attempt by Timbers to sway Kingsley about who should be agent for the uranium.

Kingsley also is chairman of the management committee of AmerGen Energy Co., a partnership between Exelon and British Energy, which owns and operates nuclear power plants. Among AmerGen's holdings is Three Mile Island Unit 1, a nuclear plant in Middletown, Pa., where a highly publicized nuclear accident took place in 1979.

In November 1997, Kingsley joined Unicom, the parent firm of Commonwealth Edison, as president and chief nuclear officer of its Nuclear Generation Group, then the largest nuclear program in the United States. Before that, he was head of nuclear generation for the Tennessee Valley Authority.