January 30 was former U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham’s last day as the non-executive chairman of Areva Enterprises Inc, the French atomic power firm’s American operation. This marked the end of a very lucrative arrangement for both Abraham and the French government own nuclear company – mostly at U.S. taxpayers’ expense.
It all began in the 1990s when the United States’ response to disposing of 34 metric tons of plutonium from shuttered nuclear weapons programs was a proposed mixed oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication facility at the Savannah River Site (SRS) near Aiken, South Carolina. When Abraham became Energy Secretary in 2001, Areva was a key contractor for the MOX plant. According to his DOE calendars, among his first trips were to France to visit their nuclear officials and operations. Abraham maintained a close relationship with the then head of Areva, Anne Lauvergeon. In turn, not long after he left the Energy Department, Abraham cashed in and went to work for Areva and “Atomic Annie,” as she was known. In 2007, DOE broke ground on the MOX plant.