Proposed uranium enrichment plant receives environmental impact statement

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on Feb. 29 issued its final technical Safety Evaluation Report (SER) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on a laser-based uranium enrichment facility proposed to be built in Wilmington, N.C.

The reports effectively complete the agency staff’s review of the license application filed by General Electric Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment LLC (GLE) to construct and operate the facility at the site of the General Electric-Hitachi Global Nuclear Fuel-America’s fuel fabrication plant. The NRC’s Atomic and Safety Licensing Board must complete its adjudicatory hearing on the staff’s review before a license could be issued. That hearing is expected to take place this summer.

The staff’s SER evaluated the potential adverse impacts of the facility’s operation on worker and public health and safety under normal and accident conditions. The review also considered GLE’s programs for the physical protection of special nuclear material (SNM) and classified matter; material control and accounting of SNM; and the management organization, administrative programs, and financial qualifications of the applicant to ensure safe design and operation of the facility. The SER contains the 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.

The final EIS on the GLE facility analyzes potential impacts of preconstruction activities, construction, operation and decommissioning of the proposed facility. The EIS contains the staff’s conclusion that the project would have small to moderate impacts on the local environment, primarily during preconstruction activities.

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