The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Paducah, Kentucky
Friday, December 06, 2002

Through the years

1976 — Department of Energy breaks ground at Piketon, Ohio, on a $4.4 billion gas centrifuge technology plant to replace the gaseous diffusion process of enriching uranium.

1985 — DOE briefly tests, then abandons about $1.5 billion in centrifuge work in favor of a more promising laser-based process. Uranium enrichment operations cease at Oak Ridge, Tenn.

1992 —Congress creates government-owned U.S. Enrichment Corp. to run Paducah and Piketon plants.

1998 —The government sells USEC for $1.9 billion in a public stock offering.

1999 —USEC abandons $100 million in laser research as not cost-efficient. Research returns to gas centrifuge.

2001 —USEC closes Piketon enrichment plant and merges work with Paducah.


November — After cutting about 350 jobs in the past four years, USEC announces eliminating another 200 positions next year at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant to save about $15 million annually. With early retirement as the primary incentive, the work force will shrink to 1,250 by early next year.

December — USEC names Piketon as site for a 50-job test gas centrifuge plant to be operational by 2005. The plant will run two or three years to test the operational and economic viability of opening a commercial plant by early next decade.

Spring 2003 — USEC applies for a test plant license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Late in year 2004 — USEC names Piketon or Paducah as site for $1.5 billion, 500-job commercial gas centrifuge plant.

Spring 2005 — USEC seeks NRC licensing for the commercial plant.

2010 —The commercial plant opens, if at Piketon.

2011 —The commercial plant opens, if at Paducah.