Skip to main content

LES Breaks Ground on National Enrichment Facility

It's another good news day for the nuclear energy industry. Down in New Mexico, LES has broken ground on the new National Enrichment Facility. From the Current Argus:
Louisiana Energy Service plans to hold the groundbreaking ceremony for the National Enrichment Facility today at the NEF site near Eunice.

The NEF, according to a press release, is the first major commercial nuclear project licensed in more than 30 years and the first ever to be awarded a combined construction and operating license. Upon completion of construction, the NEF will provide a domestic source of enriched uranium for the country's nuclear energy needs.

The groundbreaking will take place at 10 a.m.

The $1.5 billion NEF project, according to the press release, will provide close to 300 fulltime and contract jobs and more than 1,000 multi-year construction jobs in southeastern New Mexico. It will use proven technology that has operated safely in Europe for 30 years.

When construction is complete, the NEF will operate the nation's most advanced uranium enrichment facility and provide a secure domestic enrichment source to the U.S. nuclear energy companies.
NEI issued a statement from President and CEO, Skip Bowman:
“The Nuclear Energy Institute congratulates LES and its many friends throughout New Mexico and west Texas on this historic day. Once built, the state-of-the-art enrichment facility will be a rock of economic stability for the region for decades to come.

“Just as importantly, the National Enrichment Facility will help ensure a competitive, reliable supply of low-enriched uranium for the nuclear power plants that are vital to our nation’s future energy security. It will enhance our domestic supply of fuel to generate clean, reliable, affordable electricity that our nation needs.

“With the nation’s 103 operating nuclear power plants running at 90 percent capacity and the prospect of new nuclear power plant construction moving steadily closer to reality, this new enrichment facility will add to our energy security as it increases our domestic capability to produce nuclear fuel for electricity production.”
For more enrichment related news, click here.

Technorati tags: , , , , ,

Comments

Kirk Sorensen said…
Enrichment is a double-edged sword. Our fleet of LEU-fueled, once-through reactors require it, but it is this very "civilian" technology that Iran claims is necessary for their supposedly peaceful nuclear future. And although I harbor no doubt that they seek nuclear weapons, I can deny a nation's legitimate claim to develop enrichment technology if they actually intended to use nuclear power in the same way we do.

But there are other ways to do it. WASH-1097 showed back in 1969 that liquid-fluoride reactors, once they got past their "start-charges" of fissile fuel, required essentially no uranium for the remainder of their operating lifetime. The makeup fuel consisted entirely of thorium.

If we were told tomorrow that we (the US) could never enrich uranium again, we could still develop nuclear power. We would use existing stocks of fissile material (most of which the gov't wants to dispose of) and build either uranium-plutonium fast-spectrum breeders or thorium-fueled thermal-spectrum fluoride reactors. But we wouldn't have to have enrichment technology to keep adding nuclear energy to the grid. Countries like Iran probably could not follow that lead.
Gunter said…
The blog forgets to mention that NIRS and Public Citizen have appealed the licensing board decision to federal court.

LES breaks ground at its own risk.
Brian Mays said…
Two comments:

(1) Sure enrichment isn't necessary for nuclear power. In addition to thorium reactors, one could simply build a fleet of CANDU's and run off of natural uranium.

Enriching to ~5% for conventional PWR's and BWR's is simply convenient.

(2) Let's hope that NDRS's and Public Citizen's arguments in their legal appeal are more sound than the typical propaganda and disinformation that they spew, for their sake. Otherwise, I doubt that their appeal will go very far.

Why should they be so vehemently opposed to this new enrichment facility? Is it because it will undermine their dubious claims that uranium enrichment in the US is a major source of CFC emissions (which it is not) or that the entire "energy intensive" process is fueled by "greenhouse-gas emitting" coal plants?

New technology leads to better solutions, but makes the business of criticizing the nuclear industry increasingly more difficult.

Good luck with that.

Popular posts from this blog

Making Clouds for a Living

Donell Banks works at Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 as a shift supervisor in Operations, but is in the process of transitioning to his newly appointed role as the daily work controls manager. He has been in the nuclear energy industry for about 11 years.

I love what I do because I have the unique opportunity to help shape the direction and influence the culture for the future of nuclear power in the United States. Every single day presents a new challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way. As a shift supervisor, I was primarily responsible for managing the development of procedures and programs to support operation of the first new nuclear units in the United States in more than 30 years. As the daily work controls manager, I will be responsible for oversight of the execution and scheduling of daily work to ensure organizational readiness to operate the new units.

I envision a nuclear energy industry that leverages the technology of today to improve efficiency…

Why America Needs the MOX Facility

If Isaiah had been a nuclear engineer, he’d have loved this project. And the Trump Administration should too, despite the proposal to eliminate it in the FY 2018 budget.

The project is a massive factory near Aiken, S.C., that will take plutonium from the government’s arsenal and turn it into fuel for civilian power reactors. The plutonium, made by the United States during the Cold War in a competition with the Soviet Union, is now surplus, and the United States and the Russian Federation jointly agreed to reduce their stocks, to reduce the chance of its use in weapons. Over two thousand construction workers, technicians and engineers are at work to enable the transformation.

Carrying Isaiah’s “swords into plowshares” vision into the nuclear field did not originate with plutonium. In 1993, the United States and Russia began a 20-year program to take weapons-grade uranium out of the Russian inventory, dilute it to levels appropriate for civilian power plants, and then use it to produce…

Nuclear: Energy for All Political Seasons

The electoral college will soon confirm a surprise election result, Donald Trump. However, in the electricity world, there are fewer surprises – physics and economics will continue to apply, and Republicans and Democrats are going to find a lot to like about nuclear energy over the next four years.

In a Trump administration, the carbon conversation is going to be less prominent. But the nuclear value proposition is still there. We bring steady jobs to rural areas, including in the Rust Belt, which put Donald Trump in office. Nuclear plants keep the surrounding communities vibrant.

We hold down electricity costs for the whole economy. We provide energy diversity, reducing the risk of disruption. We are a critical part of America’s industrial infrastructure, and the importance of infrastructure is something that President-Elect Trump has stressed.

One of our infrastructure challenges is natural gas pipelines, which have gotten more congested as extremely low gas prices have pulled m…