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International Isotopes Submits License for New Depleted Uranium Processing Plant

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | January 07, 2010
New facility in the works
International Isotopes ended 2009 with a "nuclear" bang. On New Year's Eve, the Idaho Falls, Idaho-based radiopharmaceutical supplier announced it had submitted an application with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to open a depleted uranium de-conversion and fluorine extraction facility in southeast New Mexico.

The future plant would be used to extract valuable fluorine gases from depleted uranium tails that help manufacture silicon microchips and render the remaining uranium waste chemically stable enough for safe storage or for re-use in some nuclear fuel processes.

"The submission of this license application represents another significant accomplishment for the company and is the most recent milestone in our continued progress towards construction of this unique, commercial, environmentally friendly nuclear facility," Steve Laflin, president and CEO of International Isotopes, said in a statement.

Last March, International Isotopes chose a 640-acre site outside of Hobbs, NM as the grounds for the project.

According to International Istotopes, the U.S. nuclear agency will spend the next one to two years reviewing the proposal. The company, which makes cobalt-60 and nuclear medicine calibration products, said it could start building the pre-license parts of the site as early as this year. They expect to finish all construction by the end of 2012.