Group Organizes to Fight Uranium Plant

Sat November 15, 2003 - West Edition

EUNICE, NM (AP) A new group has been organized in southeastern New Mexico to raise environmental concerns about a proposed uranium fuel factory that a company wants to build near here.

Louisiana Energy Services, an international consortium of energy companies, plans to build a $1.8-billion uranium enrichment center 5 mi. east of Eunice. The National Enrichment Facility will convert uranium ore into reactor-grade uranium for nuclear power plants.

LES expects to hire as many as 600 construction workers during eight years to build the facility. It then will employ about 200 full-time workers.

Despite the potential economic benefits, the Citizens Nuclear Information Center contends the problems associated with it are too serious to ignore.

Retired businessman Lee Cheney, leader of the newly formed group, said the history of Louisiana Energy Services makes him leery of the company’s proposal.

LES proposed similar projects in Louisiana and Tennessee that were abandoned because of community opposition. Opponents have said the factory is an unneeded, water-hogging boondoggle.

Cheney said one of the most serious problems with the proposal is that LES has no plan yet for disposal of the factory’s radioactive waste.

LES has said the waste will not be left permanently in New Mexico, but Cheney pointed out there is no legally licensed facility to take the waste.