Around 100 jobs are at risk at a Lancashire nuclear plant after a Canadian firm ended a lucrative contract early.
Cameco and Westinghouse have announced they will end a toll-conversion agreement with Springfields Fuels Limited with effect from December 31.
That is nearly two years earlier than expected – and means 100 jobs at the Springfields plant near Preston could be in jeopardy.
Production in part of the site, which employs around 1,200 people, has been put on hold while managers assess the impact.
Westinghouse aims to lose jobs through natural wastage, voluntary redundancies and redeployment elsewhere on site. It is expected that workers across all operations will be invited to apply for voluntary redundancy.
Cameco has agreed to pay nearly £11million to Westinghouse to permit early termination of the agreement.
In 2005, Cameco and Westinghouse signed a 10-year agreement to process up to five million kilograms of uranium annually at the Springfields conversion facility.
The Springfields facility receives uranium trioxide (UO3) from Cameco’s Blind River uranium refinery and converts it to uranium hexafluoride (UF6), which is required to produce nuclear fuel. Cameco delivers the UF6 to its customers around the world.
The toll-conversion agreement was set to expire in 2016 but due to the current weak market for UF6 conversion, Cameco can meet its customer requirements from its own Port Hope conversion facility in Canada.
Part of the Springfields site will be “placed into stand-by” whilst other options are evaluated.
Mick Gornall, Managing Director, UK Fuel Operations, said: “Although this is disappointing news, we have a robust business plan going forward – with uranium recovery, a lifetime AGR fuel contract, PWR fuel and intermediates supply, as well as the prospects of new build in the UK and worldwide.
“We intend to manage the resulting impact through redeployment elsewhere in the business, attrition and voluntary severance.”
Westinghouse has 10 ten manufacturing locations around the world.