UPDATE: 11:20 a.m.
Snake River Alliance, which adamantly opposed Areva's efforts to build a uranium enrichment facility in Eastern Idaho, said today's announcement that the French-based company would suspend its plans, came "as no surprise and is further evidence that the so-called nuclear renaissance is a mirage."
"It's regrettable that the state, Bonneville County and the city of Idaho Falls have invested so much in a project that is doomed to failure," said Alliance Executive Director Liz Woodruff. "But it's better that the project be stopped now rather than later. Idaho should be planning for a clean energy future rather than clinging to a dangerous technology that will leave a legacy of deadly waste."
ORIGINAL POST 9:00 a.m.
In an overnight shocker, France-based Areva announced it would suspend its plans for building a nuclear enrichment facility near Idaho Falls.
In a meeting with financial analysts in Paris this morning, Areva CEO Luc Oursel said the company is expected to experience more than $2 billion in losses. As a result, the company plans to cut as many as 1,500 jobs in Europe and suspend a number of global projects, including the Eagle Rock enrichment facility in eastern Idaho.
In October, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission granted Areva a license to build the $3.2 billion gas centrifuge uranium plant beginning in 2012. Areva had promised to begin operations at the facility in 2014.
Areva isn't expected to ramp up its plans again anytime soon. Oursel told investors this morning that his company would cut its total investments by 34 percent as part of a "five-year turnaround plan."
Worldwide Areva employs 8,000 people, including 6,000 in France.
Oursel took over from longtime Areva CEO Anne Lauvergeon in July after the executive known as "Atomic Anne" lost some support from the French government, which owns nearly 75 percent of Areva's capital.