Congressmen Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-Texas) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today wrote the Government Accountability Office (GAO) calling for an investigation of the Departments of Energy's (DOE) continued support for the floundering United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC). In their letter to the GAO, the lawmakers point to USEC's inability to avoid insolvency in the absence of continued DOE bailouts, most recently in the form of $44 million in assistance so that the company could continue work on USEC's flawed centrifuge technology and tens of thousands of tons of free uranium transferred from the Energy Department to stave off an immediate shut down of its Kentucky enrichment facility. Additionally, the Congressmen cite the recent credit downgrading, technical problems, and inaccurate assertions about the national security benefits as reasons why the nuclear enrichment program may never reach full commercialization.
"The Department of Energy has been harming the uranium mining industry for years, dumping excess uranium tails into the market to prop up a failing company that couldn't stand on its own feet. As a result, thousands of miners from Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Wyoming, Utah, and others, have had their livelihoods put in jeopardy," said Rep. Burgess. "It is time the Department of Energy is held accountable for their activities. This GAO report will be the first step in bringing justice for an industry still damaged by Department of Energy policies."
"We've been told this earmark is all about avoiding risk to our national security, but the real risks of this nuclear bailout is for taxpayers who will be on the hook for questionable government handouts that are worth more than the entire company," said Rep. Markey. "The GAO should immediately commence an investigation into DOE's ongoing support for USEC before we throw more money at a company whose junk bond status and junk technology make it better suited for the budgetary junk heap."