| WILMINGTON, N.C., Sept 25
WILMINGTON, N.C., Sept 25 The U.S. Nuclear
Regulatory Commission issued a license on Tuesday to a
partnership between General Electric Co. and Japan's
Hitachi Ltd to build and run a uranium enrichment plant
using laser technology.
The license, which came after three years of safety and
environmental reviews, allows GE and Hitachi to use laser
enrichment technology which could produce half the amount of
enriched uranium the U.S. needs each year for its nuclear
reactors, according to the Energy Information Administration.
GE plans to build the first laser enrichment plant on its
1,600 acre (647 hectares) campus north of Wilmington in North
Carolina, home to GE Nuclear's world headquarters, GE Hitachi
Nuclear Energy, and a GE Aviation facility.
"The technology we've developed could be one of the keys to
the nation's long-term energy security," said Chris Monetta,
President and CEO of Global Laser Enrichment, the GE-Hitachi
partnership which will build the facility. It did not say when
building would start.
The laser enrichment technology was designed by
Australia-based Silex Systems Ltd.
"At a minimum, it could provide a steady supply of uranium
enriched right here in the U.S. 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", Monetta said.
GE's partners Hitachi and Cameco Corp.,
the world's largest uranium producer, hold stakes of 25 percent
and 24 percent respectively in Global Laser Enrichment.