Atomic Energy – Uranium Procurement – Legal Aspects of the AEC Domestic Ore Purchase Program

The federal government’s domestic uranium ore procurement program, initially announced following World War II to ensure maximum exploration and development for military purposes, has met with extraordinary success. So improved is this country’s military uranium picture that the Atomic Energy Commission was recently able to announce that uranium concentrate purchases would not be further increased. This announcement is viewed as a matter .of serious concern by the domestic ore producer, who must continue to look to the federal government as his sole market; a noticeable private market for peaceful uses of atomic energy fuels may not be realized for more than a decade. It becomes apparent that with the government market no longer unlimited, competition among producers and controversies with the AEC can be expected to grow more frequent and intense. Harbingers of such. developments are already on the scene. The first judicial decision interpreting language in the government’s guaranteed price circulars-Radium Mines, Inc. v. United States-was handed down a few months ago. It is anticipated that increasing competition and controversy will mean a correspondingly increased inspection and critical analysis of these price circulars, which at times are confusingly or improperly drafted. This comment is. designed to examine the legal and practical problems raised by these guarantees, with the anticipation that these problems may appear with considerably greater frequency in federal courts in the span of lean years before a substantial private market for uranium ore develops.