The only American-owned company capable of enriching uranium is asking for government help to modernize its plant and remain in business.

SafeCongress is left with a stark choice. It can either risk millions or billions of dollars to keep USEC viable, or it will have to rely on domestic inventories and foreign-owned suppliers for a service that is crucial both to maintaining the country’s nuclear arsenal and for running its 104 nuclear power reactors.

For years, USEC has been seeking a $2 billion loan guarantee, but the Energy Department was reluctant to back it. And that was before the Solyndra bankruptcy cast a harsh light on the risks the government was taking to support private energy projects.

The Obama administration is now asking Congress for a compromise that would give USEC $300 million for further development of its centrifuges, and allow the company to demonstrate that they are durable enough to warrant a full-scale plant.

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Source: Matthew L. Wald | The New York Times