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Enrichment: AREVA inaugurates the first cascade at its Georges Besse II plant

Press release

NUCLEAR POWER / FRONT-END

May 18, 2009

François Fillon, French Prime Minister, and Anne Lauvergeon, CEO of AREVA, today inaugurated the first centrifuge cascade of the Georges Besse II uranium enrichment plant, where production is set to commence this year.

The plant, built on the Tricastin nuclear site in Southern France began construction less than three years ago. It will comprise two enrichment units and will produce 7.5 million SWUs (separative work units) by the time it reaches full capacity in 2016.

This project will enhance AREVA’s position as a major player on the world’s enrichment market, on which it has almost a 25% share.

The centrifuge enrichment process applied on the site is a major technological accomplishment as it uses 50 times less electricity than gaseous diffusion used until now in France.

With a price tag of three billion euros, the George Besse II plant is one of the largest industrial investment projects currently underway in France. The worksite has been a source of major employment in France and in particular in the regions near the site (Rhône-Alpes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur and Languedoc-Roussillon).

The George Besse II plant demonstrates AREVA’s capacity to carry out a highly complex project with maximal safety and security conditions while respecting the works’ timetable. Up to 1,500 people will be involved in building the two units over a ten-year period.

Speaking at the end of the ceremony, Anne Lauvergeon described the Georges Besse II enrichment plant as "a symbol of AREVA’s determination to strengthen its position as  world leader on the nuclear energy market and offer its customers the best solutions," adding that "the group is continuing to invest, develop and recruit, bringing the entire industrial activity with it."