WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission today issued a license to GE-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment LLC (GLE) to build and operate a uranium enrichment plant using laser technology in Castle Hayne.
The license authorizes GLE to enrich uranium up to eight percent by weight in the fissile isotope U-235, using a laser-based technology. It will be used in fuel for commercial nuclear power reactors. GLE plans to build the plant at the site of GE-Hitachi’s existing Global Nuclear Fuel-America’s fuel fabrication plant.
“Receiving our NRC license is a tremendous accomplishment and strong testament to everyone involved in this project,” GLE President and CEO Chris Monetta said in a statement. “The technology we’ve developed could be one of the keys to the nation’s long-term energy security. At a minimum, it could provide a steady supply of uranium enriched right here in the US to the country’s nuclear reactors. These reactors provide approximately 20 percent of the nation’s electricity today and will continue to be an important part of the energy mix for decades to come.”
The approval comes more than three years after GLE submitted its license application and after safety and environmental reviews by the NRC.
There’s no word when construction will begin. The company says “the next step in the process is for the company to make a commercialization decision. This decision will be based on several factors.” It did not elaborate on those factors.
The NRC staff will conduct inspections during the construction and operation of the GLE facility. The agency plans to hold a public meeting in Wilmington before construction begins to explain its oversight plans to the public.