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LES - Proposed Uranium Enrichment Facility Near Eunice, New Mexico

Fuel for U.S. nuclear power plants is made from enriched uranium.  Currently, a multinational consortium of energy companies called LES (Louisiana Energy Services) is seeking to build a new uranium enrichment facility near Eunice, New Mexico, after having been effectively barred from communities in Tennessee and Louisiana.  Public Citizen opposes this project: a new uranium enrichment plant would generate massive amounts of waste, introduce new environmental hazards in New Mexico, and literally fuel a new generation of nuclear power plants.  Public Citizen and the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) have been admitted as parties to the LES licensing proceeding, challenging LES's flawed radioactive waste disposal plan and other deficiencies in the company's application.

Hearings on the environmental and technical contentions raised by Public Citizen and NIRS were held in February and October 2005, respectively. In October 2005, the NRC Commission ordered that the environmental impacts of depleted uranium disposal, which Public Citizen and NIRS had raised earlier in the proceedings, had to be considered. This was a significant victory, and the hearings at the end of October before the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) focused on the plausibility of LES's plan for dealing with the waste from the proposed facility. Plausibility includes the environmental impacts of disposal, and costs of waste deconversion, transportation, and disposal. The hearings also dealt with these cost estimates in relation to the sufficiency of LES's decomissioning funds.

On March 3, 2006, the licensing board ruled on the environmental impact of near-surface and deep disposal, acknowledging the correctness of many of Public Citizen’s assertions, but nevertheless ignoring their importance and dismissing the contentions. We are currently evaluating whether to challenge the board’s decision to the Commission. Meanwhile, we expect to receive the licensing board’s decision on our challenge to LES's cost estimates in the near future.

Hot Issues

» Citizens’ Groups Expose Seriously Flawed LES Radioactive Waste Disposal Plan

» Public Citizen/NIRS Comments on NRC Environmental Evaluation of LES Plant

» The Case Against LES: NIRS-PC Contentions Proffered to the NRC

» Letter: DOE Recommends that NRC Waive Foreign Ownership Review for Nuclear Fuel Plant

» LES Fact Sheet

    » cmep | energy enviro nuclear | newnukes | les

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