Committee Members Seek Answers from DOE on Sole-Source Award for Production of High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium
(Washington, DC) –Today, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee’s Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee Chairwoman Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Ralph Norman (R-SC) along with Energy Subcommittee Chairman Conor Lamb (D-PA) and Ranking Member Randy Weber (R-TX) sent a letter to Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Rick Perry and Deputy Secretary Dan Brouillette requesting information about the process under which the DOE selected and funded an award to Centrus Energy Corporation to demonstrate a method of producing High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU).
“We are deeply concerned about the Department of Energy’s award to Centrus Energy Corporation to demonstrate a method of producing High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium,” said the Committee Chairs and Ranking Members in the letter. “While the Committee on Science, Space, & Technology supports the Department’s research activities to accelerate the development of advanced nuclear reactor technologies and concepts in general, we have questions about how this contract was funded, why other companies were not allowed to compete for the award, and whether the need for HALEU in the near-term is well-supported.”
A copy of the full letter can be found here.
The uranium isotope commonly used as a fuel in nuclear reactors is Uranium-235 (U-235). High-assay, low-enriched uranium, or HALEU, is a type of nuclear fuel made with concentrations of U-235 between 5% and 20%. The commercial nuclear industry has expressed interest in a reliable supply of HALEU because nearly all of the proposed advanced reactor designs being developed today will require HALEU for fuel to operate.
The Department issued a Notice of Intent on January 7, 2019, to award a no-bid contract to Centrus to demonstrate production of HALEU. Under this award, the Office of Nuclear Energy would award Centrus $115 million to demonstrate of HALEU production by 2021 or 2022. The Department has not provided adequate justification for awarding this contract on a sole-source basis, excluding other meritorious applicants from competing for the opportunity. The Department also unexpectedly withdrew funds from an exemplary program, the Nuclear Energy University Program, in order to fund the award.
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