International Isotopes Inc. (OTC:INIS) announced March 1 the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has formally accepted for review the company's license application for its depleted uranium de-conversion and fluorine extraction processing facility. The paperwork was submitted to the agency last December.
The plant would convert depleted uranium hexafluoride (UF6) into depleted uranium oxide, a form which is more chemically stable. The fluoride compounds extracted in the process would be sold commercially. The depleted uranium hexafluoride is expected to come from commercial enrichment facilities.
The NRC is expected to take approximately 18 to 24 months to complete the license review. Based upon NRC's projection of the administrative and technical review schedules, the agency anticipates completing the license review and issuing the license Safety Evaluation Report and Environmental Impact Statement documents by January 2012.
NRC also notes, however, that this date could change depending on budget and resource constraints, the findings of their technical review, or other factors.
Steve T. Laflin, President and CEO, (right) stated, "The de-conversion facility is a first of its kind commercial nuclear installation and the licensing requirements for such a facility were not clearly defined.
“The company had to communicate frequently with the NRC to define these regulatory requirements to prepare an application that would meet present, as well as future anticipated, regulatory requirements for combined fuel cycle and uranium processing facilities.”
Status of the deconversion facility plans
In March 2009, the company announced the selection of a 640-acre building site for the facility just west of Hobbs, New Mexico. In June the company announced completion of the Conceptual Design Report (CDR) for the project. The final cost of the plant could be in the range of $55 million according to previous estimates announced by the firm.
The company plans to select a design and build contractor in 2011 and may initiate some pre-license construction activities at the Hobbs site in 2010, subject to NRC approval.
The INIS facility is planned for a location about 15 miles west of Hobbs, NM, and will consist of both depleted uranium de-conversion and fluorine gas extraction processes.
INIS holds patents that give it exclusive rights to the Fluorine Extraction Process (FEP), which produces high value, high purity gases in conjunction with uranium de-conversion, and thus, provides a key commercial advantage to the de-conversion plant.
INIS expects to hire about 150 construction workers for the project and anticipates that it will eventually have a full time staff of approximately 130 to 150 employees for plant operations. Construction of the $55 million facility is anticipated to begin in the third quarter in 2011 or first quarter 2012, after Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing is complete, and to begin operations in late 2012.
Consistent with an agreement with the State of New Mexico, no waste from the plant will be disposed of in that state. A low-level waste facility is located just over the New Mexico border in Andrews, TX.
Prior coverage on this blog
- June 2008 – Int’l Isotopes announces major expansion
- November 2008 – Int’l Isotopes raises $2M
- March 2009 – Int’l Isotopes chooses Hobbs, NM
- January 2010 – Int’l Isotopes submits NRC license
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