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NRC Approves AREVA License

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a license to AREVA Enrichment Services to construct and operate in Bonneville County.

According to a news release, the license for the Eagle Rock Enrichment Facility authorizes AREVA to enrich uranium up to 5 percent by weight in the fissile isotope U-235 for use in the manufacture of nuclear fuel for commercial nuclear power reactors.

Construction is expected to begin in spring 2012.

AREVA submitted its application in December 2008. Since then, the NRC staff said they completed thorough safety and environmental reviews of the proposed facility. The NRC said those studies determined there would not be an undue risk to the health or safety of workers or the public. A February 2011 Environmental Impact Statement revealed there would be no environmental impacts that would stop the licensing of the facility.

Snake River Alliance, a nuclear watchdog group in Idaho, said the NRC should not have issued the license.

“One of the requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act is a full reassessment when conditions change. And that is most certainly the case with the Fukushima (Daiichi) accident. Fukushima shook the global and nuclear industry and we’re seeing massive decreases in the industry here and at home.”

With the project comes the need for about 1,400 new workers, a thousand for construction work and 400 for operations. AREVA hopes to use local Eastern Idahoans to fill the jobs and also use local businesses to purchase supplies.

The facility is expected to be 650,000 square feet and take about six years to complete.

The NRC said it will conduct inspections during the construction and operation of the facility. The agency plans to hold a public meeting in Idaho Falls before construction begins to explain its oversight plans to the public.

Click here for more information on the studies the NRC completed.

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