Thursday, January 19, 2012

Idaho Falls company plans $125 million facility in New Mexico, seeks NRC license

Steve T. Laflin, International Isotopes
President and CEO
International Isotopes Inc. is a company I have followed with interest for years not because it's high profile but because I think it exemplifies the sort of business that keeps the local economy humming.

It has its roots in the Idaho National Laboratory, but left the reservation years ago. Located north of Idaho Falls off St. Leon Road, its focus today is on nuclear medicine calibration and reference standards, high purity fluoride gases and cobalt-60 products. The company also provides radioisotopes and radiochemicals for medical devices, calibration, clinical research, life sciences, and industrial applications. It provides analytical, measurement recycling, and processing services to clients.

This week the Nuclear Regulatory Commission started the public notification and comment period on the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the $125 million uranium deconversion facility International Isotopes is planning to build in New Mexico. As a part of the comment process, the NRC has scheduled a Feb. 2 meeting in Hobbs, N.M. Comments on the project will be taken until Feb. 27. The application and information about the NRC license review process are available on the NRC website at http://www.nrc.gov/materials/fuel-cycle-fac/inisfacility.html. 

Steve T. Laflin, International Isotopes'  president and CEO, said he anticipates a license for the facility sometime this summer.  "In the next few months, the exact timing of the NRC license issuance will become much clearer and allow the company to complete financing and start construction on this important project," he said.

Last year the company applied for a $97 million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy, which approved the first of a two-part application in June 2010. The loan comes from the department’s renewable-energy technology development program, which evaluates whether the technology might reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"Our patented fluorine extraction process uses seven times less energy than conventional industrial
processes for making hydrofluoric acid," Laflin told blogger Dan Yurma of Idaho Samizdat: Nuke Notes. "This means we can show reductions of six million pounds of carbon dioxide a year over the life of the plant."