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5:00 am
Fri May 11, 2012

Nuclear non-proliferation group demands risk assessment of GE-Hitachi uranium enrichment plant

Last night, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission held a public review of the final Environmental Impact Statement and Safety Evaluation Report for GE Hitachi’s proposed uranium enrichment facility. 

They addressed concerns such as natural disasters, security issues, and the impacts of the plant on air quality and groundwater.  But as WHQR’s Rachel Lewis Hilburn reports, one attendee raised concerns about other countries acquiring the technology.    

Tom Clements insists that because the laser enrichment technology to be used in this plant is newer, more efficient, and smaller – it’s even more vulnerable to nuclear proliferation – the spread of nuclear weapons.  Clements is Policy Director for the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, and he says the NRC should conduct a proliferation risk assessment. 

“The public is left without any kind of ability to assess the proliferation risks of enriching uranium with lasers and nobody in the U.S. Government is doing the job to tell the public if there’s a risk to U.S. security.  And we think it’s imperative that the NRC take the lead in doing a proliferation risk assessment.  But so far, that’s not happening.” 

GE-Hitachi spokesman Mike Tetuan says that kind of assessment does not fall within the purview of the NRC – but other agencies – such as the Department of Energy and the Department of State are examining those risks. 

“And in addition to those assessments that have been done, we have solicited a review panel at GLE to look at our safeguards and to take a fresh look – because it’s important to us, too.  And so they’ve looked and found that our safeguards at the facility are sometimes even stronger than what the government requires.”  

Tetuan also says that GE-Hitachi has not yet determined that it will build the facility.  That decision will come after the license is approved.