No Nuclear Waste! We Dont Want It!

Las Cruces council votes down nuclear storage facility

July 26, 2018

By Maddy Hayden, Staff Writer
Albuquerque Journal

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Las Cruces has joined the ranks of municipalities around the state in opposing a proposed interim storage facility for the nation’s spent nuclear fuel in southeast New Mexico – or at least opposing the transportation of the radioactive material through respective communities.

The Las Cruces City Council voted narrowly this week to approve a resolution opposing the Holtec International site.

"We have a lot of problems already that come from all the nuclear testing in New Mexico … . I just feel that we get dumped on," Councilor Yvonne Flores said. "I personally feel that it would be immoral for me to vote in support of this project."

Albuquerque and Bernalillo County have each passed legislation opposing the fuel’s transportation through the city and county on its way to the site.

Council members asked questions and debated the project for over two hours Monday night before ultimately voting 4-3 to pass a resolution "to oppose the transport of high level nuclear wastes and the construction and operation of nuclear waste storage facilities in New Mexico."

At the heart of the concerns, as at most public meetings and hearings regarding the project, was the logistics and safety of transportation of the highly radioactive fuel.

"There’s really no upside to Las Cruces. The downsides could be huge," said Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima. "I’m supportive of your interests as long as your interests don’t interfere with mine, which is the safety and welfare of Las Cruces residents."

Others on the council felt that more information was needed before a decision could be made.

"My reasoning was that I was hoping for more information of a scientific nature coming to us," said Councilor Jack Eakman, who opposed the resolution, in an interview Tuesday. "In my mind, we should not be afraid of atomic energy in any way. I was looking at the feasibility of the project and I wasn’t going to rule it out just because it contains the word ‘nuclear.’ "

The council will submit the resolution to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which is accepting public comment on Holtec’s license application until July 30.

The state House and Senate each passed resolutions in support of the project in 2016; Gov. Susana Martinez wrote a letter of support in 2015.

The city governments of Carlsbad and Hobbs, and Lea and Eddy counties, the communities in closest proximity to the project, have also legislated support of the site.

Fair Use Notice
This document contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. SEED Coalition is making this article available in our efforts to advance understanding of ecological sustainability, human rights, economic democracy and social justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a "fair use" of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond "fair use", you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Las Cruces City Council Passes Resolution Warning of Radioactive Waste Risks

July 24, 2018

KRWG
OpEd By Public Citizen

Commentary: Last night, the Las Cruces City Council opposed a controversial proposed high-level radioactive waste site and the transportation of this dangerous waste through the Southwest region. Similar resolutions have been passed in the cities of Albuquerque, Lake Arthur and Jal, as well as Bernalillo County. In addition, the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association passed a resolution in June, signaling growing opposition to transporting and burying the nation’s most deadly nuclear reactor waste.

Holtec International is seeking "interim" storage of the nation’s deadly high-level radioactive waste, which it hopes will be for at least 120 years.

Establishing a waste dump in New Mexico would lead to the dangerous transport of high-level radioactive waste that would travel through major U.S. cities, over major aquifers and across Tribal and agricultural lands. Transportation routes are likely to go through Las Cruces, as well as many cities across the country, including Albuquerque and Belen, New Mexico, and El Paso, Dallas, Ft. Worth, Houston, San Antonio and Midland Seven, Texas. A U.S. Department of Energy report found that a small radioactive release could result in contamination of a 42-square-mile area and clean-up costs of up to $9.5 billion for a single square mile of an urban area.

The Las Cruces resolution recommended:

  • a thorough analysis of all parties’ responsibilities, costs and potential cumulative impacts;
  • a requirement for written consent by the state, affected local officials, and affected Indian tribes to the Department of Energy and Nuclear Regulatory Commission to license such activities, and;
  • a committed federal strategy identifying a long-term equitable solution to the continued use, management, and storage of nuclear waste.
  • "Why should people of New Mexico be dumped on with nuclear reactor waste from around the country, when we don’t have any reactors in our state?" asked Rose Gardner, a resident of Eunice, New Mexico, who co-founded the Alliance for Environmental Strategies. "The Las Cruces City Council deserves thanks for acting to protect the community. The risks to health, safety, security and financial well-being are immense and people need to act now to stop the plan that risks the lives of people here in New Mexico, as well as those along transport routes throughout the country."

    The resolution follows a legislative committee hearing held last Thursday in Hobbs, New Mexico, at which the Radioactive and Hazardous Waste Committee of the New Mexico Legislature heard from railroad engineers about the risks of rail transportation and others on whether there is adequate emergency preparedness for a nuclear accident. The committee also took input from concerned members of the public, including representatives from the oil and gas industry, dairy industry, farmers, cattle ranchers, and faith and community leaders.

    Opponents of the project once again significantly outnumbered supporters, and railroad experts recommended that the committee not support the project at this time due to numerous safety concerns.

    Comments to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regarding the Holtec application are due July 30, 2018. Comments can be made online at NoNuclearWaste.org or https://action.citizen.org/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=13813

    Fair Use Notice
    This document contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. SEED Coalition is making this article available in our efforts to advance understanding of ecological sustainability, human rights, economic democracy and social justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a "fair use" of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond "fair use", you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

    New Mexicans Speak Out About Radioactive Waste Risks

    KRWG
    OpEd By Public Citizen

    July 19, 2018

    Commentary: Prominent New Mexicans raised concerns today at a legislative hearing (PDF) about a controversial plan to bring deadly high-level radioactive waste to their state. The Radioactive and Hazardous Waste Committee of the New Mexico Legislature heard from invited speakers about the risks of rail transportation and whether the state is prepared to handle a nuclear waste emergency. State lawmakers also heard from representatives of the oil and gas and dairy industries, farmers, cattle ranchers, and faith and community leaders.

    Holtec International seeks to establish an “interim” storage site for the nation’s deadly high-level radioactive waste, which it plans to store for at least 120 years. But the waste could remain there forever if there is no political will to move it or if there is not adequate funding to do so. The company plans to transport 10,000 canisters of irradiated reactor fuel rods from around the country and store them about two feet below the surface in the Southwestern state. This is more deadly waste than has been created by all U.S. nuclear reactors to date and would post significant risks not only as the waste is transported but while it is stored.

    “There is everything to lose with this plan to bring the nation’s high-level radioactive waste to New Mexico. The risks to health, safety, security and financial well-being are immense. People must act now to stop this massive mistake, which would imperil people in New Mexico as well as those along transport routes throughout the country,” said Karen Hadden, director of the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition in her testimony. The SEED Coalition has been working with local allies in opposing Holtec’s application to establish the New Mexico site.

    The Holtec project would lead to dangerous extensive transport of high-level radioactive waste that would travel through major U.S. cities, over major aquifers and across tribal and agricultural lands. Without routes that are designated, the public cannot adequately comment on the potential impacts of this massive project. Seven serious rail accidents have occurred in the past three years in New Mexico. A U.S. Department of Energy report found that a small radioactive release could result in a 42-square-mile area being contaminated and that the cost of cleaning up a single square mile of an urban area could reach $9.5 billion.

    “There is growing opposition to the proposed radioactive waste project,” said Rose Gardner, a Eunice resident and founding member of AFES, the Alliance for Environmental Strategies in her testimony. “There was overwhelming public opposition at five U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) meetings. Resolutions opposing Holtec’s project and waste transportation have been passed by Bernalillo County, the cities of Albuquerque, Lake Arthur and Jal, and by the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association.”

    Climate change and heat can make radioactive storage even more dangerous because waste storage casks might become faulty under higher temperatures. Additionally, torrential rains could flood nearby playa lakes and cause water to get into the casks. Canisters need to be repackaged if they deteriorate or leak. Currently, there are no repackaging facilities for deteriorated canisters in Holtec’s application, as it is not legally required.

    “Why should New Mexico or Texas take the waste? New Mexico didn’t receive the power or get any benefit from the nuclear reactors that produced it. Dumping the waste on New Mexico would be environmental injustice at its worst,” Gardner said.

    Comments to the NRC regarding the Holtec application are due July 30. Comments can be submitted at NoNuclearWaste.org or https://action.citizen.org/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=13813.

    Opposition rallies ahead of public hearing on Holtec site

    July 17, 2018

    Adrian C Hedden
    Carlsbad Current Argus

    Thousands of tons of nuclear waste could be coming to southeast New Mexico, and state lawmakers are asking the public to speak up – for or against.

    Former N.M. Representative and Chair of the Carlsbad Mayor’s Nuclear Task Force John Heaton listens to public comment May 3 during a Nuclear Regulatory Commission public scoping meeting held in Carlsbad, N.M. Photo: Jessica Onsurez

    The Radioactive and Hazardous Waste Committee of the New Mexico Legislature, a bicameral committee made up of state senators and representatives to analyze the facility during its permitting process, called its second meeting for 9 a.m., Thursday at the Center of Recreational Excellence in Hobbs.

    The committee was tasked with providing state-level oversight to a proposal from Holtec International, to design and build a consolidated interim storage (CIS) facility to hold spent nuclear fuel rods temporarily as a permanent repository is being devised.

    A rendering of what Holtec International’s interim nuclear waste repository would look like if completed.
    (Photo: Holtec International)

    The only proposed permanent resting place for the waste, Yucca Mountain in Nevada, was blocked by Nevada lawmakers as federal funding was cut, but President Donald Drumpf included $120 million in a recent budget proposal to restart Yucca’s licensing process.

    But that could take decades, and Holtec hopes to provide a safe location to hold the rods – away from large bodies of water and dense population centers – in the meantime.

    Environmentalists worried the Holtec site, about 500 acres 35 miles from Carlsbad and Hobbs, could become permanent.

    Rose Gardner, a Eunice resident and founder of the Alliance for Environmental Strategies said the opposition outweighs public support.

    She cited concerns from local farmers and ranchers and residents in the area and across New Mexico, during multiple public hearings held by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the agency overseeing Holtec’s permitting process.

    Gardner said local governments are also in opposition to the facility, pointing to resolutions against the facility passed in Bernalillo County, Albuquerque, Lake Arthur, Jal and by the statewide New Mexico Cattle Growers Association.

    "There is growing opposition to the proposed radioactive waste project" Gardner said. "There was overwhelming public opposition at five NRC meetings."

    Kris Singh, President and CEO of Holtec Photo: International
    Holtec International

    In a letter to New Mexico Sen. Jeff Steinborn (D-36), who chairs the committee, Holtec President Kris Singh said the CIS concept was essential to maintaining the security of America’s nuclear waste.

    The project could also strengthen the economic diversity in rural southeast New Mexico, Singh wrote, in a region reliant on oil and gas extraction for millions of dollars in revenue.

    "I have called our HI-STORE a national security imperative. It is also an economic imperative for southeast New Mexico because it will bring hundreds of millions of dollars in income to the region and create numerous well-paying jobs," he wrote.

    "The facility provides a sustainable revenue stream that is so important to the region and the state that are heavily dependent on fossil fuels for income."

    He also questioned the motivations of opponents of the site, who Singh said rely too little on scientific facts and too much on emotion.

    "Those who stand in (the facility’s) way without credible science-based facts regarding its licensing and operation will be guilty of subverting New Mexico’s economic growth and undermining our national security," Singh wrote.

    "Our international adversaries would be delighted to see the world’s most technically advanced country unable to get its act together on a matter of great societal interest."

    To read the letter from Kris Singh, President of Holtec, go to currentargus.com.

    Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-628-5516, achedden(at)currentargus.com or @AdrianHedden on Twitter.

    Fair Use Notice
    This document contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. SEED Coalition is making this article available in our efforts to advance understanding of ecological sustainability, human rights, economic democracy and social justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a "fair use" of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond "fair use", you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.