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Areva Addresses Environmental Impact

It’s not easy getting approval to bring a $3 billion uranium facility to Idaho Falls.

On Tuesday, Areva argued its case in a series of presentations to the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel.

More than three years after Areva announced it wanted to build a uranium enrichment plant near Idaho Falls, the licensing process is nearing completion.

The two-part process began in January when the board reviewed the safety of the proposed Eagle Rock Enrichment Facility.

But before the board can grant permission for Areva to hire and build, they must study the Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff’s environmental impact review.

“The decision maker, in this case the commission, can make an informed decision in licensing or not the request from Areva,? said branch Division of Waste Management and Environmental Protection Branch Chief Diana Toro.

But Snake River Alliance Executive Director Liz Woodruff said she doesn’t believe all environmental impacts were adequately addressed.

“The depleted uranium hexafluoride of which there is no disposable pathway, could be stored indefinitely above the Snake River Aquifer for 250,000 people,? Woodruff said. ?That’s the primary environmental concern we have.”

At Monday night’s public hearing Woodruff claimed there was no demand for a uranium enrichment plant.

“It’s important for us to ask the question why the facility is needed in light of the economic effects of the nuclear industry in a post Fukushima plant world.”

Areva Enrichment Services CEO Sam Shakir argues there is no indication that current U.S. nuclear reactors will be pulled offline.

Shakir said if the facility is not built, the U.S. nuclear industry will have to rely more heavily on foreign supplies primarily from Russia.

“We felt this location suited all of our needs. It scored the highest of all the sites we looked at at that time an we made a decision we are very happy with,” Shakir said.

Areva has already signed contracts for 90 percent of the proposed Eagle Rock Facility’s output through 2028, half of which is to U.S. reactors.

Shakir said if the request is not granted, the company will take its money elsewhere.

The board is expected to make a decision by the end of September.

If you wish to view any of the past proceedings, visit

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