Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: II-23-014 May 8, 2023
Contact: Dave Gasperson, 404-997-4417
NRC Begins Special Inspection at Urenco USA Facility
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has launched a special inspection at the Urenco USA uranium enrichment facility in Eunice, New Mexico. The inspection follows an April 21 incident involving the operation of a crane near a building that handles uranium hexafluoride without the required safety controls present.
The facility is safe, but the event raises concerns about safety protocols at the site and warrants additional NRC inspection as it involves a breakdown of controls designed to prevent chemical, radiological, and criticality hazards – the primary concern at U.S. fuel cycle facilities. Two similar events occurred in 2022, prompting the NRC to propose Urenco USA receive a $70,000 civil penalty earlier this month.
The inspection began today and inspectors from the NRC’s Region II office in Atlanta are at the Urenco USA plant. Over several days, the inspectors will assess the effectiveness of previous corrective actions taken by the facility to implement safety controls during construction activities and evaluate the appropriateness of the company's overall response.
“The recurrence of safety incidents at the Urenco USA fuel fabrication facility is concerning, and we expect all our license holders to prioritize safety, strictly adhere to the highest standards, and take prompt action to correct deficiencies,” said NRC Region II Administrator Laura Dudes. “We're committed to holding all NRC license holders accountable and taking appropriate action to protect public health and safety.”
The inspection team will document their findings and conclusions in a public report typically issued within 45 days of the completion of the inspection.