United States Louisiana Energy Services (LES) has named a site at Hartsville, Tennessee, where TVA cancelled plans to build a reactor, as its preferred location for a new uranium enrichment plant.

A licence application will be submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission “as early as possible” during the next six months, once the land has been acquired, and LES will open a local office in Hartsville shortly to deal with residents’ questions.

The LES consortium includes enrichment companies, engineering companies and US utilities. It selected the site for its $1.1 billion advanced European centrifuge technology plant from a shortlist of two. The alternative was Bellefonte, Alabama, where TVA has another unfinished plant.

LES president George Dials said an “objective scoring system” was used to select Hartsville. He added: “We used a decision analysis model to screen or score more than 40 sites throughout the US. Hartsville and Bellefonte scored very highly on the technical criteria. Hartsville scored somewhat higher cumulatively and has some business and environmental benefits.” The plant will require 400 staff during construction and 250 in operation.

On the need for the new plant, Dials said: “As the energy industry moves into the next decade, it will be particularly important to ensure a secure supply of domestically enriched uranium in the US market.”