The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has accepted for formal review an application by Global Laser Enrichment (GLE) for a combined construction and operating license (COL) for the world's first uranium enrichment facility based on laser technology. GLE - a venture launched by GE-Hitachi and in which Cameco has since taken a 24% stake - submitted the COL application in two stages. The environmental portion was given to the NRC in January, while the safety report was submitted on 30 June. The NRC will now commence its estimated 30-month review of the application. The partners in the project announced at the end of July that the test loop for the GLE project had started operation. GLE will use the results gained from the loop to inform decisions on whether to go ahead with a full-scale plant in Wilmington, North Carolina, based on enrichment of uranium through laser excitation. Should the NRC issue a COL and GLE decides to construct the facility, a 3-6 million SWU plant could be in operation by 2012 or 2013.