Areva, GE, select sites for enrichment facilities

12 May 2008

French firm Areva is hoping to build a $2 billion uranium enrichment facility in Idaho, USA, as part of plans to increase nuclear fuel operations ahead of the planned expansion of the country’s nuclear power plant fleet.

Areva says it will now go ahead with seeking all necessary approvals for the planned facility, which will provide enrichment services to US nuclear power plant operators using advanced centrifuge technology. It plans to build the plant by 2014.

The new plant will be built in Bonneville County, 18 miles west of Idaho Falls and close to the Idaho National Laboratory. Areva says it selected the Idaho site after an extensive technical, environmental and socio-economic analysis of several potential sites in the US.

“The United States needs more clean energy to support its economic growth. To enable us to meet those needs we have to expand our domestic nuclear infrastructure, secure our supply of enrichment services, and reduce our reliance on foreign imports. This new enrichment plant is a critical part of this process,” said Michael McMurphy, President of AREVA Inc.

Areva will benefit from a recent decision by the Idaho state Legislature to extend a sales tax exemption for nuclear fuel production equipment. The company is building another new enrichment facility – based on gas centrifuge technology – in France.

Potential GE enrichment site at Wilmington

Global Laser Enrichment, a subsidiary of GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH), has selected GEH’s Wilmington headquarters site for a potential commercial uranium enrichment facility.

GEH has exclusive rights to develop, commercialise and launch its third-generation uranium enrichment technology on a global basis, under a 2006 agreement with the original developer, the Australian company Silex Systems Ltd.

Before moving ahead with full-scale production plans, GLE will first evaluate the results of a demonstration test loop, which is currently under construction, and obtain an NRC license to build and operate the commercial plant. Commercial licencing activities are currently underway to support a projected start-up date of 2012.

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