The U.S. Dept. of Energy says that the transfer of 2,400 metric tons per year, or MTU, of natural uranium to the joint venture of Fluor Corp. and Babcock & Wilcox as payment for cleanup of a Cold War-era nuclear fuel plant in the Midwest would not adversely affect the domestic uranium industry. DOE's "bartering" approach has come under scrutiny by congressional appropriators; the U.S. Government Accountability Office has called for eliminating the companies as "sales agents" in a report released in April.
The GAO took issue with DOE's using contractors to sell uranium in the nuclear-fuel marketplace and then keeping proceeds as partial payment for cleanup work at its Portsmouth, Ohio, plant. GAO says that, in seven transactions from 2009 through 2011, about 1,900 metric tons of natural uranium were sold that way. The uranium received between $109 and $183 per kilogram, and the proceeds funded more than $250 million in environmental work at the plant.