NRC approves operation of New Mexico uranium plant

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June 11, 2010 12:40:30 PM PDT
EUNICE, N.M. (AP) - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has authorized startup of a $3 billion uranium enrichment plant in New Mexico, the first major nuclear facility to be licensed in the US in the past three decades.NRC officials said in a news release Thursday they are satisfied the facility can begin operations.

The Louisiana Energy Services facility near Eunice will use an enrichment process that employs centrifuges to separate uranium isotopes. The enriched uranium will supply fuel for nuclear power plants in the US and overseas.

LES president and chief executive Gregory Smith calls the NRC approval "a turning point" for the nation's nuclear industry.

The technology used at the New Mexico plant has been in place in Europe for more than 30 years.