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By Garima Goel
(Reuters) - USEC Inc <USU.N> may have to furlough some employees at a uranium enrichment project if the U.S. government shutdown extends beyond October 15, a company spokesman said.
USEC, a supplier of enriched uranium for commercial nuclear power plants, needs about $48 million to complete the $350-million American Centrifuge project in Ohio, which is 80 percent funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
The plant, which will produce low-enriched uranium used to make nuclear fuel, employs 959 workers, mainly in Ohio and Tennessee. It is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year.
"The money that would allow us to carry on for the next two weeks is the fiscal year 2013 funds that we have been able to carry over," Paul Jacobson, vice-president of corporate communications, told Reuters.
Congressional Republicans and the White House are in a stalemate over government funding, which has forced the first government shutdown in 17 years.
USEC, which has about 1,770 employees, did not disclose how many employees could be furloughed.
"We would have to consider a variety of options related to suppliers and furlough of employees and so forth," Jacobson said, adding that slowing work was another option.
The company has another uranium enrichment plant in Paducah, Kentucky. The project is owned by the DOE and operated by USEC.
The company is in talks with the DOE to return its lease on the project and the shutdown could delay the process, Jacobson said.
USEC shares have risen 40 percent in the last three months. But traders have attributed the spike to a short squeeze, a rapid gain that occurs when traders who had bet that a stock would fall cover their bets in order to protect themselves against further losses.
(Reporting by Garima Goel in Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)