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

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