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CANT wins ASLB decision; LES project probably finished

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(December 13, 1996) In a stunning decision, an NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) agreed with the Citizens Against Nuclear Trash (CANT) that the Louisiana Energy Services (LES) is not financially qualified to build its proposed uranium enrichment plant near Homer, Louisiana.

(463.4595) Michael Mariotte -In addition, the ASLB agreed with CANT that the Final Environmental Impact Statement did not adequately address the benefits of not building the plant, that it overstated the possible benefits of building the plant, and that it did not adequately address whether there is a need for the plant. The ASLB strongly suggested that there is no need for the plant.

The ASLB clearly saw through the sham financial structure of the LES, which is designed to shield its major corporate partners (the European firm Urenco, Fluor Daniel, Duke Power and Northern States Power) from any liability associated with construction, operation and decommissioning of the plant. The ASLB said the LES must have genuine commitments from its partners and/or banking institutions for the money to build the plant before a license is granted. This is almost certainly the end of the LES project, as the corporate partners do not appear to either want or else are unable to raise enough money on their own. And few banks, if any, will offer loan guarantees to a project without a license, and without sufficient backing from its own partners.

This is, quite frankly, the only clear-cut ASLB victory for the public that we can remember. The ASLB still has to rule on landmark environmental justice issues related to the project. Congratulations to CANT and its attorneys, Diane Curran of Harmon & Curran and Nathalie Walker of Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, Louisiana!

The text of the ASLB decision (149 pages) is available on NIRS web site under the Fuelcycle section of NIRSNET on the Web.

Source: News Update, NIRS, 5 December 1996
Contact: NIRS, 1424 16th Street NW, #404, Washington DC 20036 USA
Tel: +1-202-328-0002
Fax: +1-202-4622183