Step forward for laser enrichment

1 March 2012

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued the final safety evaluation report (SER) and environmental impact statement (EIS) for a commercial SILEX laser uranium enrichment plant proposed by General Electric-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment LLC (GLE) in Wilmington, North Carolina.

These reports include the NRC staff’s conclusion that GLE’s descriptions, specifications and analyses provide an adequate basis for safety and safeguards of facility operations and that operation of the facility would not pose an undue risk to worker and public health, and safety.

“This is a significant milestone towards obtaining an operating license for the commercial enrichment facility – the first time a license application has been considered for a third-generation laser enrichment technology,” Dr Michael Goldsworthy, Silex CEO said.

A spokesman for GE told NEI that "Receiving the final Environmental Impact Statement and Safety Evaluation is a significant milestone toward obtaining an operating license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and a testament to the rigorous procedures we have established to protect the environment, our employees and the community."

The licensing process from this point onwards involves a mandatory public hearing by the NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) to be held in the Wilmington from 9-11 July 2012. Following this, the ASLB will finalise its recommendations and submission to the NRC.

The NRC has previously said it would make a decision regarding GLE’s commercial facility application by end of August 2012.

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