A former contract assembler at the URENCO USA uranium enrichment facility in Eunice, NM, ended up banned from any involvement in NRC-licensed activities for a year, said officials at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

The URENCO facility, which enriches uranium using centrifuges, is licensed by the NRC as Louisiana Energy Services and is located near Eunice, about 20 miles south of Hobbs, NM.

While working at the facility in 2016, the former contract employee was found to have placed a small classified component in another contract employee’s lunchbox and that employee unknowingly removed the component from the facility.

That employee discovered the component at his home, secured it and returned it to facility security. An NRC investigation found the former contract employee had been responsible for the removal of the component and had engaged in deliberate misconduct.

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The former contract employee is prohibited from any involvement in NRC-licensed activities for one year from the date of the Order and is required to notify the NRC of his first employment in NRC-licensed activities for an additional year following the prohibition period.

The URENCO facility was also cited for a violation of NRC security requirements, but because the company identified the issue and took extensive corrective actions, the agency did not propose a civil penalty for the violation.

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