The New Mexico Environmental Law Center just released the results of an interesting investigation that examined whether or not renewed uranium mining would deliver an economic boom for New Mexico. Dr. Thomas M. Power, the natural resources economist from the University of Montana who conducted the study, found that New Mexico taxpayers will not see the $30 billion gain projected by the mining industry as a result of the growing demand for low enriched uranium (LEU) to power nuclear power reactors. In fact, Power discovered that taxpayers will potentially lose value due to the environmental impact of mining.
This report is related to an investigative lead that POGO is currently exploring: is the Department of Energy (DOE) faltering in its efforts to generate revenue and secure dangerous terrorist targets by not downblending its stockpile of hundreds of tons of excess highly enriched uranium (HEU) to LEU? A source tells us that DOE does not know exactly how much HEU is scattered across the nuclear weapons complex.
While DOE's stock of HEU may not be able meet all of the domestic demand for LEU, the federal government could supply much more than it currently does. In doing so, DOE could generate significant revenues to taxpayers and reduce a serious security threat. HEU is very expensive to guard because it can be used to make an Improvised Nuclear Device (IND).
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 202-347-1122 if you have any information on what is holding up DOE's effort to downblend HEU. Could it be the potential impact on the market price of LEU?
-- Ingrid Drake and Peter Stockton