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Power needs in Middle East may lead to Idaho Falls jobs

Nuclear plants in the United Arab Emirates may give Idaho Falls’ economy a boost.

Paris, France-based Areva announced Wednesday that it won a major contract to supply enriched uranium with the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation. This contract stipulates that Areva will supply enriched uranium for the future nuclear power plants at Barakah, which are under construction in UAE, over an eight-year period.

Grow Idaho Falls Executive Director Linda Martin said Areva’s announcement is positive news for the company’s proposed Idaho Falls enrichment plant.

She said Areva finding enrichment customers helps seed the investment needed to make the Idaho Falls plant a reality.

Areva won a Nuclear Regulatory Commission license for the multi-million dollar facility in October of last year, but the company announced it was delaying the Idaho Falls construction project pending a market recovery. Martin said recent financial reports indicate the company’s restructuring was positive.

The UAE’s nuclear program plans to commission the first two of four reactors in 2017 and 2018, pending approval. By 2020, with four plants online, nuclear energy should meet up to 25 percent of UAE’s electricity needs, Areva said.

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