NEW HANOVER COUNTY--GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy wants to bring a uranium enrichment plant to Wilmington. Right now, GE gets enriched uranium from outside companies. The company wants to enrich its own uranium. The plant would bring plenty of jobs and environmental concerns. Employees of GE/Htachi, a panel from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and curious residents gathered at UNCW Thursday night. The topic of discussion was GE's desire to build an enriched uranium plant next to their current buildiing off Castle Hayne Road. The processed uranium would be used to produce energy for GE's nuclear plants. President of GE hitachi Tammy Orr says it's safe. "We know how to handle it we know how to manage it and we're going to continue to build off of our safety record because at GE safety is our number one priority." The first step is submitting an application to the NRC for licensing. Thursday's meeting was to ease concerns of local residents in how the process works. GE plans to submitt the application by the end of the year. From there it will take the NRC at least two years to review. The NRC has to make sure the air, soil, water and workers' health won't be compromised. Some residents praised NRC for their detailed process. "I'm very impressed, I think the process is a wonderful process." A New hanover county resident told the NRC. Others are more wary like Dorothy McCaskill. "The health consequences and the distance that it is from residences, it's very much in our community right in our back yard." Despite the NRC's role as an independent agent, McCaskill is not convinced that the uranium plant is a good idea. "I feel like I came here to learn more," McCaskill says, "and I am still of the opinion that I had when I came here that it's not a good thing." If you would like more information about the NRC's process, log on to www.nrc.gov or you can contact NRC's Licensing Project Manager, Tim Johnson at 301-492-3121 Elizabeth Kuronen, a spokesperson for GE/Htachi can be contacted at 910-675-6121
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