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Public Interest Groups File Brief To Challenge License for Proposed New Mexico Uranium Enrichment Plant

April 3, 2007

Public Interest Groups File Brief To Challenge License for Proposed New Mexico Uranium Enrichment Plant

Louisiana Energy Services’ Plant Would Violate Law and NRC Safety Regulations

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) and Public Citizen today filed a brief in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals challenging the legality of the license for Louisiana Energy Services’ (LES) proposed uranium enrichment plant near Eunice, N.M.

“Our brief shows that the license violates the law because the NRC issued an environmental impact statement and then decided it was incomplete and had to supplement it after the public hearing,” said Michele Boyd, legislative director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program. “Congress intended for the public to have the environmental impact statement for consideration at the time of the hearing.”

LES’s license – approved on June 23, 2006 – was the first to be issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a full-scale, uranium enrichment plant. NIRS and Public Citizen filed a lawsuit against the NRC challenging the license in August 2006.

“The license also violates NRC’s regulations because it determined that the waste could be disposed in shallow-land burial, even though the regulations do not allow it and radiation doses to the public would far exceed regulatory limits,” said Michael Mariotte, executive director of NIRS.

The brief details many other problems with the environmental impact statement – for instance, no adequate waste disposal exists for the 133,000 metric tons of depleted uranium waste that would be produced. 

LES is a consortium of U.S. and European energy companies led by Urenco – a grouping of British, Dutch and German government and corporate entities – and includes industry giants such as Exelon Corp., Entergy Corp., Duke Energy and Westinghouse Electric Co. Each of these companies has an interest in greater ownership of the nuclear fuel chain and collectively formed LES for the purpose of developing a new domestic uranium enrichment facility.

The NRC will file its brief on May 2, and LES will file its brief on May 17. NIRS and Public Citizen will file a reply brief on May 31. Lindsay Lovejoy serves as the attorney for NIRS and Public Citizen.

To read the NIRS and Public Citizen brief, click here.