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Ky. Plant Awaits Outcome Of Pres. Bush-Russia Uranium Dispute

PADUCAH, Ky. (AP) - A Kentucky plant will feel the waves and after-effects as the Bush Administration wades into a dispute over whether Russian uranium can be dumped into the U.S. market.

The U.S. Department of Justice, joined by general counsels for the departments of State, Defense, Commerce and Energy, last week asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review an appeals court decision that allowed government-backed Russian uranium into the country.

The Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Paducah said the case will have a significant affect on the plant. The Paducah plant is the only factory left in the U.S. that enriches uranium for use in nuclear fuel.

Rob Ervin, president of the Paducah plant's United Steelworkers local, said the petition stemmed from intense lobbying from the union, USEC and Kentucky congressional delegation.

"Getting the solicitor general of the United States to present a petition to the Supreme Court is certainly no small task," he said. "The mere fact it was filed serves as a testament to the significance of the dumping issue."

Elizabeth Stuckle, spokeswoman for Paducah plant operator USEC Inc., said as far as the company knows, if Supreme Court justices decide to intervene it will be the first antidumping case they have ever reviewed.

Last fall, a federal appeals court ruled that units of enriched uranium are services rather than goods and paved the way for Russia to dump governmentally subsidized uranium into the U.S. market.

Federal lawmakers from Kentucky have legislation pending to prevent the dumping, which they say could undercut Paducah plant production costs.

In December, the United States tentatively agreed to allow limited imports of uranium from Russia, suspending an antidumping investigation that has been in place for decades.

The imports, beginning in 2011, would be limited by yearly quotas.

The importing of Russian low-enriched uranium for use in commercial power reactors has been a contentious issue for years because of concern that Russia, with huge amounts of the material, would undercut America's domestic uranium supplier.

USEC for years has been the U.S. partner with Russia on "megaton for megawatt" program in which Russia has converted weapons-grade uranium to low-enriched uranium and sold it to USEC for commercial purposes.

That program is scheduled to expire in 2013.
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Information from: The Paducah Sun, http://www.paducahsun.com

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-02-23-08 1230EST


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