IIFP Fluorine Extraction and Depleted Uranium Deconversion Plant Licensing
On October 2, 2012, the NRC issued a license to International Isotopes Fluorine Products Inc. (IIFP) for construction and operation of a depleted uranium deconversion facility. Issuance of the license completes a three year application review which was initiated on December 30, 2009. On that date IIFP, a subsidiary of International Isotopes, Inc., submitted an application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). IIFP selected a site in Lea County, New Mexico, for its proposed facility, which will be known as the Fluorine Extraction Process and Depleted Uranium Deconversion Plant (FEP/DUP). The facility will convert depleted uranium hexafluoride (UF6) into fluoride products (i.e., deconversion) for commercial resale and uranium oxides for disposal. The proposed facility is projected to be capable of processing up to 11 million pounds of depleted UF6 per year.
For additional information see the following topics on this page:
- Regulation and Legislation
- License Application
- Major Milestones
- Safety Evaluation Report
- Environmental Impact Statement
- Correspondence and Other Information
- Public Involvement
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Legislation, Regulation, and Policy
Source material licensees, such as IIFP, are regulated under Title 10, Part 40, of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR Part 40), in accordance with the Atomic Energy Act of 1954. In addition, the Commission directed in Staff Requirements Memorandum to SECY 07 0146 that new conversion and deconversion facilities must also comply with the 10 CFR Part 70, Subpart H, Integrated Safety Analysis requirements. The Atomic Energy Act does not require a formal adjudicatory hearing for this type of license application. However, the Atomic Energy Act does require the applicant to obtain public liability insurance for its facilities. Further, the Atomic Energy Act requires the NRC to inspect the facility before operations begin to ensure that the plant is constructed to meet the license requirements.
Because licensing this type of facility is considered a Federal action, the NRC must meet the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969. The NRC staff has complied with NEPA in the present case by preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in accordance with agency regulations in 10 CFR Part 51.
On December 30, 2009, International Isotopes, Inc., submitted a license application, seeking to construct and operate the proposed FEP/DUP Plant near Hobbs, New Mexico. That license application includes the following documents:
- License Application, Revision B
- Integrated Safety Analysis Summary, Revision B
- Environmental Report, Revision A
On February 24, 2010, the NRC accepted the application for formal review. The NRC staff conducted a technical review of the documents, conducted an on-site review of the Integrated Safety Analysis, issued requests for additional information (RAIs), and developed a Safety Evaluation Report (SER) published in May 2012 as NUREG-2116. In addition to the safety review, the NRC staff conducted an environmental review to develop an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
The major milestones for the review are summarized below.
|Major Milestones for Review of International Isotopes License Application
Received December 30, 2009
|SER Major Milestones||Schedule||Description|
|Acceptance Review||02/23/10||The acceptance review ensured the license application had adequate information to be reviewed formally|
|Close Opportunity to Request a Hearing||06/04/10||A notice of opportunity to request a hearing was published in the Federal Register, see FRN 75, page 17170-17174. No requests were received.|
|Resolve Requests for Additional Information for the SER||10/17/11||The NRC issued a request for additional information (RAI) to the applicant to assure compliance with the regulations.|
|Complete ACRS Review||02/13/12||On May 25, 2011 the NRC staff and IIFP, briefed a subcommittee of the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS) regarding the IIFP project and draft SER, see transcript. The ACRS determined additional review was not necessary, see February 13, 2012 Memo.|
|Finalize Internal Review of SER||04/30/12||The SER underwent final administrative, legal and managerial review, prior to publication.|
|SER Published as NUREG-2116||05/31/12||The final SER was published as NUREG-2116.|
|EIS Major Milestones||Schedule||Description|
|Public Scoping Input||08/30/10||During the scoping process, the NRC sought input from the public on the appropriate scope of issues to be considered in the EIS, see scoping summary report.|
|Resolve Request for Additional Information for the EIS||04/05/11||The NRC requested additional information from the applicant to supplement the applicant’s environmental report (ER), as needed.|
|Publish Draft EIS as Draft NUREG-2113||01/13/12||The NRC staff published a notice of availability of the draft EIS in the Federal Register with a request for public comment, see Draft Report for Comment NUREG-2113.|
|Close Public Comment Period on Draft EIS||02/27/12||NRC staff received comments from Federal, State, and local government agencies, Tribal governments, and members of the public on the draft EIS.|
|Issue final EIS as NUREG-2113||08/22/12||The NRC staff published the final EIS as NUREG-2113. “Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Fluorine Extraction Process and Depleted Uranium Deconversion Plant in Lea County, New Mexico – Final Report (NUREG–2113).”|
|Publish a Federal Register notice of the Final EIS as NUREG-2113||08/31/12||The NRC published the final EIS as a NUREG and submited it to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA then published a Notice of Availability in the Federal Register which starts a 30 day waiting period before NRC makes a decision on the proposed action.|
|Issue License SUB-1011||10/02/12||The NRC issued IIFP a 40 year license to construct and operate a depleted uranium deconversion facility (SUB 1011).|
|Begin Construction Inspections/Oversight Activities||TBD*||The NRC will initiate an Inspection Program to assure that IIFP constructs the facility consistent with the commitments in the license application documents.|
* The construction inspection and oversight activities will begin after IIFP decides to begin construction of the facility.
Safety Evaluation Report
The NRC staff conducted a technical review of the license application and integrated safety analysis summary consistent with applicable regulations (e.g., 10 CFR Part 40) and (10 CFR Part 70, Subpart H) and guidance (e.g., NUREG-1520, Standard Review Plan for the Review of a License Application for a Fuel Cycle Facility), and then developed a SER to document the review's findings.
On May 31, 2012 the NRC published a Federal Register notice announcing completion of the final SER for the FEP/DUP license application. The SER was published as NUREG-2116, "Safety Evaluation Report for the International Isotopes Fluorine Products, Inc. Fluorine Extraction Process and Depleted Uranium Deconversion Plant in Lea County, New Mexico." The SER documents the NRC staff's review of the license application and serves as the safety basis for issuing license SUB-1011.
Environmental Impact Statement
On December 30, 2009, INIS submitted an Environmental Report for the proposed IIFP FEP/DUP deconversion facility. The Environmental Report provides the applicant's assessment of the environmental impacts of the proposed commercial facility. As required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and NRC regulations in 10 CFR Part 51, the NRC must develop its own assessment, which is documented in the EIS.
For more information about NEPA and the environmental review process, see Frequently Asked Questions About NRC's Role under the National Environmental Policy Act. To learn more about environmental reviews for nuclear materials sites, see Materials Environmental Reviews.
As part of the scoping process, the NRC staff conducted a public meeting on the scope of the EIS for the proposed IIFP FEP/DUP on July 29, 2010. Comments received from the public were used by the NRC staff to determine the range of actions, alternatives, and potential impacts to be considered in the EIS, and to identify significant issues related to the proposed action, as summarized in the Scoping Report.
The NRC published a draft EIS for public comment on January 9, 2012 and held a public meeting in Hobbs, New Mexico on February 2, 2012 to present the draft’s conclusions and take comments from the public. The NRC staff received more than 400 comments from members of the public, government officials and agencies, and nongovernmental organizations. The comments are addressed in the final EIS. The final EIS was published on the NRC website as NUREG-2113, "Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Fluorine Extraction Process and Depleted Uranium Deconversion Plant in Lea County, New Mexico – Final Report" on August 22, 2012.
On October 2, 2012 the NRC issued a 40 year license for IIFP to construct and operate a fluorine extraction and depleted uranium deconversion facility. Once construction begins, the NRC will implement an inspection program to ensure the facility is constructed consistent with the commitments in the NRC approved licensing documents.
Correspondence and Other Information
The NRC maintains IIFP-related documents in the Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS). Publicly available documents may be located by entering the IIFP Docket Number (04009086) in the ADAMS Advanced Web Search. Some of these key documents are listed below.
The following table lists, in chronological order, the public meetings that the NRC staff has conducted in regard to the application and licensing processes for the IIFP depleted uranium deconversion facility.
|Significant Meetings Between IIFP and NRC|
NRC Category 1 Meeting with International Isotopes Inc. re: Inspection of construction at proposed FEP/DUP deconversion facility in Lea Co. NM.
Slides for February 2, 2012 Public Meeting on Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Proposed Fluorine Extraction Process and Depleted Uranium De-Conversion plan.
Notice of Public Meeting on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed International Isotopes Fluorine Plant in Lea County, New Mexico
Summary of Meeting with International Isotopes on Human Factors.
07/13/2011 Call Summary for Clarification on Financial Assurance and Possible Exemption (TAC L32739)
07/01/2011 Closed Notice of Meeting with International Isotopes, Inc., to Discuss Human Factors Requirements for INIS (TAC L32739).
Email Call Summary RE: Follow-up to Financial Assurance RAIs (TAC L32739).
E-Mail Summary of Call Between INIS and the Seismic/Structural reviewers regarding follow-up to RAI responses
Telecom Meeting Summary On International Isotopes Environmental RAIs
Summary of Teleconference Meeting with International Isotopes, Inc., to Discuss the Draft Responses to the Requests for Additional Information (RAI) for the Financial Assurance and Human Factors Reviews
Email from Maria Gaurdiola re: Call Summary for Integrated Safety Analysis, Seismic, and Structural.
E-mail from M. Guardiola Regarding Call Summary for Discussion of Groundwater Well.
Conference Call with International Isotopes, Inc. to Discuss Draft Responses to the Environmental Report Requests for Additional Information (TAC No. L32740)
Management meeting between NRC and INIS
01/19/11 Trip Summary for Fire Reviewer Visit to INIS Regarding Fossil Fuel Pipeline Hazards Conducted (TAC L32739)
|07/29/2010||Public Scoping meeting on the environmental review for the proposed International Isotopes Fluorine Products, Inc. fluorine extraction process and depleted uranium de-conversion plant in Hobbs, New Mexico
Site visit to conduct Integrated Safety Analysis horizontal and vertical slice and discus draft requests for additional information with International Isotopes Inc.
International Isotopes Inc. and agency management meet to discuss the ongoing licensing review for the proposed deconversion facility.
Telephone call summary regarding the status of the International Isotopes Inc. land transfer, site characterization, and the detailed facility design.
Conference Call To Discuss Environmental Report
Public Meeting To Describe the Review Process for the International Isotopes Depleted Uranium Deconversion Application
Conference Call To Discuss the Review Schedule for the License Application
Conference Call To Discuss the Submittal Date of the License Application
Letter to International Isotopes
Closed Meeting: Discuss Security and Integrated Safety Analysis Requirements