The federal government will look to begin purchasing uranium for the purpose of creating a national reserve in case of a market collapse so nuclear power plants could keep operating, an Energy Department official said Friday.
Benjamin Reinke, who leads the Energy Department’s Office of Policy, told a panel discussion moderated by syndicated talk show host Hugh Hewitt that the purchases of mined uranium will begin “as soon as possible,” TheHill.com reported.
“What we’re looking to do is begin as soon as possible by purchasing uranium starting at the mines where the danger of collapse is the most acute in the fuel cycle,” Reinke said. “We would begin with the purchase of uranium and beginning of standing up the conversion services that would be necessary to create a full uranium reserve.”
The revelation comes a month after the Energy Department released a report from its Nuclear Fuel Working Group that recommended a plan to boost the nuclear energy industry, including spending $150 million to establish the reserve.
TheHill.com said the Energy Department did not respond to a request for follow-up comments or information.
The average price of uranium fell 8% between 2018 and 2019 to nearly $36 a pound.
The Trump administration has said assisting the nuclear industry would bolster America’s power supply while lessening the influence of Russia and China on the international energy market.
Western Uranium & Vanadium Corp., which operates a uranium mine in Colorado, announced on Thursday that it was preparing for its “mining team to start mining activities in compliance with state requirements” for the resumption of economic activity emerging from the COVID-19 outbreak.
Some energy experts have promoted nuclear as an alternative to fossil fuels such as oil and gas due to its zero carbon emissions, but it still has drawn the ire of environmental activists due to the fact that the spent nuclear fuel must be stored for decades while it remains radioactive.
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