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Friday, April 16, 2010

Global Laser Enrichment to build commercial uranium enrichment facility at Castle Hayne plant By Jim Brumm

Global Laser Enrichment to build commercial uranium enrichment facility at Castle Hayne plant

By Jim Brumm

Global Laser Enrichment has begun design work on a commercial uranium enrichment facility following successful testing of the technology at GE’s nuclear fuel assembly plant in Castle Hayne.

External Links:

Read more about GE Hitachi's uranium enrichment proposal
http://www.starnewsonline.com/section/topic50

The successful completion of the test loop program begun last summer was announced this week by Silex Systems, the Australian company that owns the laser enrichment technology.

On Wednesday, GE Hitachi chief executive Jack Fuller told a nuclear security conference in Washington that Global Laser “has successfully completed early testing, in accordance with (federal) requirements. At the same time, we are just beginning Phase 2, where we will design the first commercial production facility.”

Fuller went on to discuss the safeguarding of the Global Laser Enrichment technology acquired from Silex in May 2006, pointing out the effort was based on a previous agreement between the U.S. and Australian governments to safeguard this process.

He called GE “a natural fit to develop this technology” based on its half century of providing nuclear technology, including its safe and secure operation of fuel fabrication facilities since the 1950s, first in San Jose, Calif., then in Castle Hayne. The laser enrichment test loop was built here with permission of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“During this time, we have worked very closely with the NRC to ensure compliance with the security protocols that apply to all sensitive nuclear technology in the United States,” Fuller said.

In October 2006, he noted, the U.S. Department of Energy formally approved GE’s acquisition of the technology and its transfer to the company’s facilities near Wilmington.

The successful completion of the test loop program begun last summer was announced this week by Silex Systems, the Australian company that owns the laser enrichment technology.

On Wednesday, GE Hitachi chief executive Jack Fuller told a nuclear security conference in Washington that Global Laser “has successfully completed early testing, in accordance with (federal) requirements. At the same time, we are just beginning Phase 2, where we will design the first commercial production facility.”

Fuller went on to discuss the safeguarding of the Global Laser Enrichment technology acquired from Silex in May 2006, pointing out the effort was based on a previous agreement between the U.S. and Australian governments to safeguard this process.

He called GE “a natural fit to develop this technology” based on its half century of providing nuclear technology, including its safe and secure operation of fuel fabrication facilities since the 1950s, first in San Jose, Calif., then in Castle Hayne. The laser enrichment test loop was built here with permission of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“During this time, we have worked very closely with the NRC to ensure compliance with the security protocols that apply to all sensitive nuclear technology in the United States,” Fuller said.

In October 2006, he noted, the U.S. Department of Energy formally approved GE’s acquisition of the technology and its transfer to the company’s facilities near Wilmington.

This approval triggered a GE payment to Silex of $15 million, following the $5 million paid when the agreement was reached with Silex.

Since then, Hitachi and Cameco have purchased stakes in Global Laser Enrichment of 25 percent and 24 percent, respectively, leaving GE with a 51 percent stake.

With the successful completion of early testing, Global Laser has met the first of two requirements for the next progress payment to Silex. The other step needed to trigger the $15 million payment is the issuance of a commercial facility license, which the NRC is expected to do in mid-2012.

After receiving that license, Global Laser “will initiate the commercial deployment” of a production facility at Castle Hayne, Fuller said.


http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20100415/ARTICLES/100419797?p=1&tc=pg

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