San Juan County uranium plant gets DOE boost
The DOE will purchase up to one million pounds of domestically produced uranium under a program to ensure supplies of the material in the event of market disruptions.
Curtis Moore is vice president of marketing at Energy Fuels. His company produces uranium and operates the last conventional plant in the United States. It’s in San Juan County. He said that so far the reserve program is very limited…not enough to bring another uranium boom to our region.
“It’s unlikely to translate into further uranium mining or processing or anything like that. But it’s a very small step. But we think it’s a very important first step to try restore those critical capabilities,” Moore said.
The uranium purchased will come from the only American conversion plant located in Illinois.
Funding for the reserve comes from the 2020 federal budget.
But that’s not the Biden administration’s only effort to bolster the nation’s uranium supply. The infrastructure bill provided $6 billion to support nuclear power plants threatened with closure.
Moore said he was encouraged by the administration.
They understand well the importance of uranium and nuclear fuel on several fronts, especially in the fight against climate change, but also for national security and energy security purposes.
The United States imports most of the uranium used to fuel the reactors. Last year, fourteen percent of the reactor fuel came from Russia. Forty-three percent came from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
Strong opposition remains to new uranium mining and milling activities in the country. The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe in White Mesa say the Energy Fuels plant near their land polluted the air and water. This is an Energy Fuels litigation claim.
Meanwhile, in May, the DOE announced it was working on a “comprehensive uranium strategy” to support nuclear reactors. They haven’t released those plans yet.
This report comes from KZMU News in Moab.