Excerpt: AREVA, a French firm, got a loan commitment from the Energy Department to build a similar plant in Eagle Rock, Idaho, although, because the Fukushima accident has cut the demand for nuclear fuel, it has not decided whether to proceed. The AREVA project was considered lower risk than Piketon because its technology is proven.

John R. Longenecker, a consultant in the nuclear fuel business, said the problem for USEC was that there were too many other players in the market in a world awash in enrichment capacity. The industry had hoped for a renaissance that would result in many more reactors, he said, but “if that happened, I blinked and missed it.”

And there are large inventories of highly enriched uranium from decades of past production, much of it from decommissioned weapons. “We’ve got 100 years of high-enriched uranium in storage,” Mr. Longenecker said. With additional material coming out of uranium weapons, there is enough “probably for 1,000 years of whatever naval fuel we need.”