GE-Hitachi nuke unit gets laser OK


The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a license to a company affiliated with Hitachi Ltd. and General Electric Co. to build and operate a uranium enrichment plant in North Carolina that uses laser technology.

The license is expected to boost General Electric-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment LLC’s nuclear fuel-supply operations by commercializing the laser technology.

The NRC said Tuesday it has authorized the company to use the laser technology instead of centrifuges to enrich uranium up to 8 percent by weight in the fissile isotope uranium-235.

The company applied in June 2009 to build and run the plant as the first commercial uranium enrichment plant using laser technology. After assessing the environmental effects, the NRC concluded that there would be “no significant environmental impacts that would preclude licensing the facility.”