Domenici Praises Plan to Double Capacity of Uranium Enrichment Facility in Lea County

U.S. Senator Pete Domenici today praised the decision to almost double the capacity of the National Enrichment Facility (NEF) near Eunice, N.M., asserting that the larger plant will give New Mexico an unparallel role in the rebirth of nuclear energy in the United States.

The Louisiana Energy Services (LES) today announced its intent to increase the capacity of the NEF from 3 million Separate Work Units (SWU) to 5.9 million, which will mean increasing the investment in the NEF by approximately $1.0 billion over the original $2.0 billion cost of the project. Construction at NEF would continue through 2014, also increasing the construction and operation workforce at the Eunice plant.

“Doubling the capacity of the NEF will truly solidify New Mexico’s leading role in the rebirth and growth of American-generated nuclear power. The expansion of the LES plant will mean that this single plant in Lea County will be able to supply much more of the fuel for the nuclear plants in the United States for decades to come,” said Domenici, ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “This is wonderful news all the way around.”

“If we can revive uranium mining in a safe and healthy manner, New Mexico will, in a significant sense, become one of the most powerful energy states in the country, particularly in terms of creating clean energy that does not contribute to global climate change. This, along with our production of natural gas, crude oil, and renewable energy sources, is our future and we should embrace it all for the future of our state and country,” he said.

In October, the NEF main separation building was designated as the Pete V. Domenici Separation Building in recognition of his work to revive the nuclear energy sector in the United States. He helped break ground on the new nearly $2.0 billion plant in 2006, following several legislative actions:

• Passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that created the right market climate for the renaissance of U.S. nuclear energy; and

• Enactment this fall of his legislation to close a loophole and protect the U.S. market from unrestricted Russian imports, while also continuing an important U.S.-Russia nonproliferation agreement on highly enriched uranium (HEU).