On August 23, a spokesperson from Louisiana Energy Service (LES) confirmed that they had officially notified the Nuclear Regulatory Committee that the company had narrowed their search to two potential sites, one in northern Alabama and the other in Trousdale County.
On Monday, executives from LES officially announced Hartsville/Trousdale County as their choice for the $1.1 billion facility that would be a new uranium enrichment facility.
The proposed Trousdale County site would be 250 of the almost 2,000 acres owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority that were part of the Hartsville Nuclear Plant project. The Hartsville Nuclear Plant was first begun by TVA in 1976, with construction halted in 1982, after TVA announced they had overestimated the need for nuclear power plants to produce electricity. Much of the site has been sitting empty and unused since that time.
Earlier this year, the Tennessee Valley Authority sold 500 acres of this land to the Four Lakes Regional Industrial Development Authority. This organization is dedicated to attracting new industry to the area.
Approximately a month ago, representatives with the Four Lakes Regional Industrial Development Authority met with representatives of Louisiana Energy Service to discuss the possibility of moving the uranium enrichment facility to the Trousdale County site.
The proposed facility would enrich uranium, making it suitable for use as a fuel in nuclear power plants. Nuclear power plants currently supply approximately one fifth of the nation's electricity.
According to authorities in the field, the power-plant-grade uranium that would be the end product of the enrichment procedure would not pose a threat of nuclear reaction.
Construction of the facility would bring approximately 400 jobs to the area, with the facility having 250 jobs after the project is completed.
LES executives have state that they plan to hire as many area residents as possible to fill the jobs.
LES is a consortium by Urenco, a European uranium enrichment venture. Other members of the consortium include Westinghouse Electric Company, the Canadian uranium mining company Cameco, and three American electric utilities: Duke Power, Exelon, and Entergy.
Early media reports from the alternative site in Hollywood, Alabama, indicate that residents there are viewing the loss of the facility as a setback.
A group known as Citizens for Smart Choices, has stated their protest of the site and plans to make their feelings on the matter known.
There are still a number of steps along the way, before the facility is licensed and work can begin at the Hartsville/ Trousdale County site.
All five members of the Four Lakes Regional Industrial Development Authority (Wilson, Sumner, Trousdale, Macon and Smith) would have to vote on the sale of approximately 250 acres to LES for ther project. This vote should come in the next few weeks.
LES officials would then have to apply to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a license. This would probably happen by the end of this year or early next year.
Approximately 6 to 8 weeks after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission receives LES' application, the commission would hold a scoping meeting in or near Hartsville. This session is a key part of the process by which the Nuclear Regulatory Commission prepares a report on the proposed plant's environmental impact. The purpose of this meeting is to obtain local public comment on the types of impact that should be evaluated when ther report is prepared. This meeting also provides an opportunity for the members of ther community to comment on the environmental impact report or to petition for a formal hearing on the plant.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will also prepare a safety review, covering public and worker health and safety.
This process should take approximately 18 months. The facility is expected to be operational by 2007.