GE Hitachi's Global Laser Enrichment is seeking approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to use the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.
GLE has been in negotiations with the Department of Energy since late November for use of the site and the depleted uranium stored there.
GLE's letter of intent filed with the NRC outlines plans to submit a license application in September. The application seeks permission by November 2016 to build and operate a new laser enrichment facility on or near the Paducah site, which NRC spokesperson said is a small move forward.
“Them sending us a letter, of course, is not binding,” he said. “But it is the recognition on their part that they do intend to seek a license to build and operate this facility.”
But Ledford said the application review and approval process is a long one.
“It would be a matter of years,” he said. “I noticed in their letter that they would suggest that we would approve within two years. We wouldn’t comment on a schedule because we don’t have an application at this point.”
GLE's possible location in Paducah would be good employment news for the community as the current plant occupants are in shutdown phase and laying-off more than 1,000 highly paid employees.
U.S. Enrichment Corporation continues reducing its workforce in April, laying off more than 350 people, which is the largest reduction since USEC announced it was ceasing production in May. Then only 300 people will remain at the plant to provide basic services and complete waste removal.