Uranium miners wary of plan to enrich DU stockpile

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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) -- The uranium industry is questioning Energy Secretary Steven Chu's determination that releasing and re-enriching up to 9,200 tons of depleted uranium from a federal stockpile won't undermine uranium prices.

The measure endorsed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is intended to prevent a Kentucky uranium enrichment facility from closing and preserve 1,200 jobs.

The group Uranium Producers of America says three such upcoming releases of federal uranium inventories could undermine uranium prices and cost jobs in their industry.

Under the plan announced Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Energy will provide depleted uranium to Washington state utility Energy Northwest. The uranium will be re-enriched near Paducah, Ky., by USEC Inc.

Secretary Chu has signed a formal determination saying the released uranium won't harm the uranium mining, conversion or enrichment industries.