Urenco is investigating after a worker at Germany’s Gronau enrichment plant was exposed to uranium hexaFLUORIDE.
The incident occurred on 21 January when, during preparation of a container, a release of the radioactive substance occurred. One employee of who was operating at that time was admitted to hospital as a precaution for 24 hours for observation.
The affected air was passed through filters and the readings on the plant stack were below the regulatory limits, Urenco said in a statement. The appropriate authorities were immediately informed.
Meanwhile, Urenco, which operates enrichment plants in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands, has deemed 2009 “another year of strong business performance.” The company also says its fourth enrichment plant in the USA is ready to start commercial operation, subject to receipt of regulatory approval.
According to the interim trading statement released 25 January, Urenco’s net income for 2009 is forecast to be “significantly higher” than in the previous year because of a lower depreciation charge expected following an extension of the useful lifetime assumption of core equipment. In addition, there will be significantly lower net finance costs.
Urenco also said capacity expansion in Europe and the USA progressed well in 2009, with approximately 1200tSW added by year-end, bringing total Group capacity to 12,200tSW/year.
At the firm’s Dutch site in Almelo, Hall 5 was completed and construction began for the installation of Hall 6. In the last quarter of 2009, the Board also approved further expansion at Almelo with extensions to both Halls 5 and 6. Construction at Almelo is expected to begin during the second half 2010. Operations at Separation Hall 2 in Gronau, Germany, began in 2009 following successful receipt of an operating licence.
Modular expansion of the European plants will continue into 2010 and beyond in order to achieve a Group enrichment target of 18,000 tSW/a by 2015, Urenco said.