Press Release

All the Nation’s High Level Nuclear Waste Coming to New Mexico?
Together We Can Protect Our Lands and Way of Life

March 14, 2018

Orano, WCS Aim to Revive Spent Fuel Storage Project

Nearly a year after putting it on ice, Waste Control Specialists aims to revive its application for a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission license to build and operate a facility for consolidated interim storage of used fuel from commercial nuclear power reactors. It is doing so in a joint venture planned with Orano USA.

Establishment of the joint venture and a formal request to restart the NRC review are expected in the second quarter of this year, said Jeffery Isakson, vice president of business operations at Orano subsidiary TN Americas, who is working on the spent fuel storage project.

The plan remains to build a facility on Waste Control Specialists’ property in Andrews County, Texas, to temporarily hold up to 40,000 metric tons of spent fuel until the Department of Energy finds a permanent home for the radioactive waste.

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March 4, 2018

ELEA moves one step closer

"I do not consent to it," said Hobbs resident Byron Marshall. "After doing my due diligence, it has come to my attention that it is too much of a risk to the families and the community of Hobbs. The possibilities of a radiation leak, of an accident, of transporting … high-level nuclear waste … coming here via rail thousands of miles away, the transport route alone is a hazard that is unfathomable. But to bring it here and to call it a interim facility and saying that it is only going to be used temporarily until we find a final resolution for it is kind of bogus. Once it gets here, it’s not going anywhere else because no else wants it."

The idea of bringing high-level radiative waste to southeast New Mexico is a "game-changer" Marshall said.

"If once it does get finalized and it does get built here, I have to think about moving somewhere else," Marshal said. "I don’t want this place to be another Fukushima."

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(Photo by: Lisa Dunlap)

December 9, 2017

Groups plan opposition to proposed nuclear fuel site

A group of about 40 environmental activists and non-nuclear waste organizers, including people from Roswell, are deciding how best to protest a planned interim storage site in Lea County for spent nuclear fuel.

Proponents say the project will benefit the nation as it seeks solutions to a costly problem about disposing of waste and will benefit the region in terms of jobs and federal money for local projects.

Read more…

What Could Go Wrong

Public Hearings may soon be held in Hobbs and Carlsbad, possibly in mid-April.
Stay tuned for full details. Please plan to attend and help spread the word!

To become involved please contact Alliance for Environmental Strategies
Rose Gardner in Eunice, NM
Noel Marquez in Artesia, NM


To download a petition you can use to gather signatures:

Hi Store site image

Key Facts:

  • Holtec and Eddy Lea Energy Alliance (ELEA) seek to build a high-level radioactive waste storage facility just between Hobbs and Carlsbad, NM, where they want to store 100,000 metric tons of this dangerous waste for up to 120 years – 40 years through initial licensing and 80 years for license extensions. Holtec hopes to begin construction in 2020 and complete Phase 1 in 1.5 years, with operation beginning in 2022.
  • Holtec plans for a nationwide dump. 78,000 metric tons irradiated fuel have already been produced by U.S. nuclear reactors, so Holtec’s application would cover every bit of what has already been produced, plus all that is likely to be generated by today’s reactors by the time they close.
  • If the NRC approves the license, thousands of shipments of deadly radioactive waste would move across the nation for over 20 years, posing risks from accidents, leaks and terrorist actions.
  • Some radiation would leak from transport containers. The NRC says that this the amount is minimal, but there could be impacts for those along transport routes or for someone who gets stuck next to a train.
  • If New Mexico or Texas accepts deadly high-level radioactive waste for storage, the sites would likely become de facto permanent disposal sites for the whole country. Utilities would no longer be lobbying for a final repository and thus Congress wouldn’t fund one. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) raised this issue in their 2014 report on high-level radioactive waste.
  • We can predict transportation routes, but they wouldn’t actually be designated and approved by USDOT and the NRC until 2022, when licensing could be complete. Citizens and policymakers need to know the routes before a decision to license radioactive consolidated radioactive waste storage is made.
  • High-level radioactive waste must remain isolated from living things for thousands of years. It is mainly irradiated (spent) fuel rods from nuclear reactors, which still contain most of their original uranium, as well as with radioactive strontium, cesium and plutonium, which are created during the reactor fission process. Plutonium remains
    dangerous for over a quarter of a million years. Inhaling it causes cancer.
  • About 100,000 metric tons of irradiated fuel will have been generated by existing U.S. reactors by the time they cease operating, with roughly 1000 metric tons of plutonium. If separated, that’s enough plutonium for 120,000 nuclear bombs.
  • A report by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), acknowledges the vulnerability of radioactive waste to sabotage during transport, and that consequences due to sabotage or accidents are also higher during transport since the waste may be near population centers.
  • DOE calculated that train transport would have an accident rate of 1 in 10,000 shipments. At least one train accident was expected to occur if transport was mainly by train. Over 10,000 shipments were anticipated for Yucca Mountain.
  • A DOE report found that a severe accident involving one radioactive waste cask that released only a small amount of waste would contaminate a 42-square mile area, with cleanup costs exceeding $620 million in a rural area. Clean up in an urban area would be time consuming. It could cost up to $9.5 billion to raze and rebuild the most heavily contaminated square mile.
  • Each railcar of high-level radioactive waste would carry roughly the amount of plutonium that was contained in the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki. (not in bomb grade form)

Map: New Mexico Sate Rail System in 2014
New Mexico Rail map

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