NRC Proposes $70,000 Fine to Urenco USA Uranium Enrichment Facility

Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: II-23-004 April 3, 2023
Contact: Dave Gasperson, 404-997-4417
NRC Proposes $70,000 Fine to Urenco USA Uranium Enrichment Facility
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has proposed a $70,000 civil penalty for Urenco USA for two violations of agency requirements related to improperly implementing safety controls at its Eunice, New Mexico, plant.
The first violation occurred during a March 2022 event when plant staff found three construction vehicles parked near a building that handles uranium hexafluoride without physical barriers in place. The company notified the NRC as required and the agency launched a special inspection in response and documented its findings in a May 10, 2022, report.
The second violation occurred during a June 2022 event when plant management observed an employee not following established safety procedures for trucks entering an area near a building containing uranium hexafluoride cylinders. The company notified the NRC and the agency conducted a follow-up inspection Aug. 24, 2022.
During that inspection, NRC inspectors found that Urenco USA failed to implement adequate safety measures during both incidents. Specifically, the company did not take enough precautions to prevent a potential accident sequence involving construction vehicles damaging the facility or the uranium hexafluoride inside – increasing the risk to plant workers and the public.
Urenco USA was notified of the apparent violations Dec. 8, 2022. The company submitted a written response to the NRC Feb. 8, 2023, admitted the violations, and discussed their plans for corrective actions.
The NRC reviewed Urenco USA’s response and determined that while the incidents did not result in the release of radioactive material, the potential safety consequences of the violations warrant the proposed fine.
The company has 30 days to pay the proposed penalty or contest it. The NRC will consider any response from the company before making a final determination on the matter.