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Protestors to Nuclear Regulator Commission: Keep Nuke Waste out of Texas

Sept. 13, 2021
For Immediate release

Contacts: Karen Hadden,, 512-797-8481,
Hon. Lon Burnam,, 817-721-5846
Susybelle Goslee,, 214-732-8610


Protestors to Nuclear Regulator Commission: Keep Nuke Waste out of Texas

Arlington, Texas – Protesters gathered outside of the Regional Headquarters of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in Arlington, Texas today to oppose the agency’s expected approval of a license to store dangerous nuclear reactor waste in West Texas.

Overwhelming opposition to the plan has been demonstrated over and over again, most recently with the passage of HB 7 unanimously in the Texas Senate and by a 119-3 vote in the House. Such a strong bipartisan vote is rare these days in Texas. The Governor signed the bill on September 9 and it went into effect immediately.

“The NRC should listen to the voices of our governor, legislators and millions of Texans and halt licensing of a facility that would put our health and safety at risk. Strong bipartisan votes are a clear message from the Texas Legislature to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. When it comes to importing deadly radioactive waste to Texas: We Don’t Want It!,” said SEED Coalition Director Karen Hadden. “We will keep fighting even if the license is issued. We have legal challenges in the courts and will continue organizing. We hope the Texas Attorney General fights to protect us as well.”

“The U.S. Nuclear regulatory Commission is likely to issue a license today to store up to 40,000 metric tons of the nation’s most dangerous nuclear reactor waste in Andrews County, Texas. With the passage of HB 7, the state can deny the permits necessary to dump new waste at the site. We hope the feds have heard the message: We don’t want it!” said Tom “Smitty” Smith, former director of Public Citizen’s Texas Office.

“The recent bill at the Texas Legislature will help support our legal case opposing licensing for high-level radioactive waste storage, which is now at the DC Circuit Court of Appeals,” said Cyrus Reed, Conservation Director for the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. SEED Coalition, Beyond Nuclear and a coalition of oil and gas industries led by Fasken Oil and Ranch also have cases on appeal.

Opposition to the nation’s high-level waste coming to Texas for storage has been expressed in a recent resolution by Andrews County, which could host the facility if the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) licenses a facility.

Five other counties and three cities passed similar resolutions, representing 5.4 million Texans. School districts, the Midland Chamber of Commerce and oil and gas companies have joined environmental and faith-based groups in opposing the dangerous plan. Governor Abbott has written strong letters to the NRC and a bipartisan group of Congressional Representatives spoke out as well. Letters and a recent press release are online at The enrolled version of HB 7 is online here.

“Licensing of the proposed high-level radioactive waste storage facility does not mean it will get built. We will continue to fight for protection of the health, safety, environment and economy of Texas,” said former State Representative Lon Burnam.

60 Groups to NRC: Suspend ISP/WCS High-Level Radioactive Waste CIS Dump Proceeding, Till Covid-19 Emergency Ends

Coalition Calls for DEIS Public Comment Meetings Along Targeted Transport Routes in Texas and Beyond

For immediate release, July 14, 2020

Rose Gardner, Alliance for Environmental Strategies (AFES), Eunice, NM,, (575) 390-9634
Karen Hadden, Executive Director of the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition, Austin, TX,, (512) 797-8481
Susybelle Gosslee, League of Women Voters of Texas,, (214) 732-8610
Terry Lodge, legal counsel for Don’t Waste Michigan, et al.,, (419) 205-7084
Wally Taylor, legal counsel for Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter,, (319) 366-2428
Michael Keegan, Don’t Waste MI & Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes,, (734) 770-1441
Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear,, (240) 462-3216
Stephen Kent, KentCom LLC, (914) 589 5988,

ANDREWS, TEXAS — A coalition of 60 environmental and environmental justice groups, from 22 states, has written the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regarding Interim Storage Partners, LLC’s (ISP) proposed Consolidated Interim Storage Facility (CISF) for irradiated nuclear fuel targeting the Waste Control Specialists, LLC (WCS) site in Andrews County, Texas. See the letter, here.

The coalition’s letter to NRC advises:

All of the undersigned organizations hereby request that the Commission indefinitely extend, for the duration of the national COVID-19 pandemic emergency, the ongoing public comment period for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the ISP/WCS CISF proposed for development in Andrews County, west Texas. At the formal termination of the national emergency, as via a safe and effective vaccine available to all people regardless of socio-economic status, we request that the public comment period then be extended for a period of 180 days, post-pandemic. We further request that when in-person public comment meetings again become safely possible that the NRC conduct plenary-style, in-person public comment meetings in the following six Texas locations: San Antonio, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, El Paso, Midland, and Andrews. We also request that in-person public comment meetings likewise be held, post-pandemic, in more than a dozen cities nationwide, on impacted transport corridors in states outside Texas.

The 180-day public comment period (as opposed to NRC’s current 120-day public comment period, currently set to end on September 4, 2020), and nearly two-dozen public comment meetings in more than a dozen states, would match the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) public comment proceeding at the DEIS phase of the proposed Yucca Mountain, Nevada permanent repository scheme, targeted at Western Shoshone lands. This ISP/WCS CISF proposal is more than half as large as the Yucca scheme: 40,000 metric tons of irradiated nuclear fuel, versus 70,000. But because the CISF is supposedly "temporary," export shipments would double the transport risks and impacts, thus matching those of the Yucca dump targeting Western Shoshone land.

The coalition letter came after U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett (TX-35th) wrote NRC, also urging public comment meetings across the Lone Star State be delayed until after the pandemic emergency — currently raging in Texas — ends, and the public comment period be held open until after the in-person meetings are completed, including in his congressional district. Similarly, U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (MD-8th) has written NRC, urging the comment period be extended "throughout the duration of the pandemic," and to end it "no sooner than six months after this FEMA-declared emergency has passed."

Of the 60 groups on the letter, six are from TX: Energía Mía; Nuclear Free World Committee of the Dallas Peace and Justice Center; Public Citizen (Texas Office); Peace Farm; Sierra Club (Lone Star Chapter); and Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition. Alliance for Environmental Strategies (AFES), a largely Hispanic environmental justice organization, is based just five miles from the WCS site, across the state line in Eunice, New Mexico.

Of these, Public Citizen Texas Office, Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter, and SEED Coalition have officially intervened against the ISP/WCS CISF in the NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board proceeding. Rose Gardner, founder of AFES, has provided legal standing to Beyond Nuclear in its legal intervention against the WCS/ISP CISF, as well.

Terry Lodge, an attorney based in Toledo, Ohio, represents Public Citizen and SEED Coalition. Wally Taylor, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, serves as legal counsel for Sierra Club.

Rose Gardner of Alliance for Environmental Strategies (AFES) in Eunice, NM said: "NRC has not even yet set up meetings in New Mexico or Texas for the public to comment on the ISP/WCS DEIS, and unfortunately this proceeding comes at a time when the whole nation, including New Mexico and Texas, are under stress and even dangerous conditions which do not allow for the common folk to even go to the grocery store or a doctor. NRC must stand down and postpone these meetings, as well as extend the comment period. The most vulnerable in our communities would be put at risk if these hearings were held now."

Gardner added: "I also admit that I am unable to concentrate on the dangers associated with the storage of high-level radioactive waste just five miles from my home even though that should be an important thing to discuss as this could possibly impact the futures of everyone in this area. NRC must take into account that these are not normal times and that regular communities are encountering abnormal situations every day that we never thought we would have to deal with. Living in the oil patch is especially difficult now because jobs are being lost and companies are pulling out of town at an amazing rate. I don’t even know where we will be in two weeks as the dangerous contagious coronavirus pandemic seems to be getting worse, not better."

Karen Hadden, Executive Director of the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition based in Austin, TX said: "A private company seeks to profit by dumping the nation’s deadliest nuclear reactor waste in West Texas, a massive environmental injustice. The facility could get licensed by NRC, an agency that’s been ignoring the voices of thousands of Texans and people across the country who live along transportation routes. So far the process has been a sham. Well-documented health and safety concerns were tossed out by hearing judges. The NRC must start listening, and hold real public meetings on the DEIS, once the Covid-19 risks are over. More than 5.4 million Texans have been represented by county and city resolutions opposing nuclear waste dumping."

Hadden added: "These voices must count and the NRC must stop ramming massive deadly waste projects through at a time when many people are struggling just to keep their families healthy and fed."

Don’t Waste Michigan, et al. legal counsel Terry Lodge said: "The NRC’s official position, that potentially tens of thousands of extremely dangerous radioactive waste shipments are not even worth discussing in a scientific and public manner, is a dramatic red flag. There is zero justification to rush this ill-considered cash cow to licensing. The NRC must not be allowed to take advantage of the pandemic to ramrod a decision in the shadows."

Wally Taylor, Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter’s legal counsel, said: "The DEIS for this project implicates so many issues and requires intense study, and probably expert review and opinions, that 120 days is clearly not enough time to submit the thorough and technically based comments that the NRC will require. ISP/WCS, and the NRC, want to fast-track this process to prevent genuine public input. We will not allow that to happen."

In its letter, the locations along major transport routes where the coalition urges NRC to hold public comment meetings include: Andrews, TX; Atlanta, GA; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Cleveland, OH; Dallas/Fort Worth, TX; El Paso, TX; Detroit, MI; Houston, TX; Kansas City, MO; Miami, FL; Midland, TX; Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN; Nashville, TN; New York, NY/Newark, NJ; Omaha, NE; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; San Antonio, TX; San Luis Obispo, CA; St. Louis, MO; Salt Lake City, UT; and Tampa, FL.

Beyond Nuclear is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership organization. Beyond Nuclear aims to educate and activate the public about the connections between nuclear power and nuclear weapons and the need to abolish both to safeguard our future. Beyond Nuclear advocates for an energy future that is sustainable, benign and democratic. The Beyond Nuclear team works with diverse partners and allies to provide the public, government officials, and the media with the critical information necessary to move humanity toward a world beyond nuclear. Beyond Nuclear: 7304 Carroll Avenue, #182, Takoma Park, MD 20912.

The Most Dangerous and Deadly Radioactive Waste Could Come Through Major Texas Cities and Be Dumped on West Texas

For Immediate Release: November 16, 2018

Karen Hadden, (512) 797-8481
Diane D’Arrigo (202) 841-8588,
Tom "Smitty" Smith, (512) 797-8468,
David Rosen, (432) 634-6081,
Adrian Shelley, (512) 477-1155,

Conservative Midland City Council Joins Growing List of Opponents
14 License Application Failures Detailed in Legal Filings

The Public Can Speak Out Until November 19th Against Plan to Dump the Most Dangerous of All Radioactive Waste in West Texas; Public Involvement Has Stopped Risky Waste Dumps Before

Austin – The most dangerous radioactive waste in the nation may be dumped in West Texas if a license is granted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). This waste could be coming from more than 100 nuclear reactors around the country. The NRC is accepting public comments on this license until November 19th Members of the public can send an editable letter from

Waste Control Specialists (WCS) seeks to store 40,000 tons of irradiated reactor fuel rods at their existing low-level radioactive waste site for 40 years, although their application says that the waste could remain "until a permanent repository is found." In other words, we could get stuck with it forever, at inadequate site that isn’t designed for the long-term. A de facto permanent disposal facility could be created for deadly waste that must remain isolated from people and the environment for literally a million years. Exposure to radiation can cause cancer, genetic damage and birth defects. Exposure to unshielded high-level radioactive waste is lethal.

On Tuesday, November 12, the conservative Midland City Council approved a resolution (6-0) opposing consolidated interim storage or permanent disposal of high-level radioactive waste in West Texas and New Mexico or the transportation of this radioactive waste through or around the corporate limits of the City of Midland.

"This entire licensing case has cost untold thousands of hours and dollars to grassroots groups, and all of it is unnecessary," said Terry J. Lodge, attorney for Public Citizen, SEED Coalition and four other organizations. "The Waste Control Specialists license application is not legally authorized. The NRC has no authority to review it. It would take an act of Congress for WCS (and the Holtec facility, which also has a pending license application) to allow it to ever be built. And it adds insult to injury for the unlawful WCS proposal to not include even bare minimum protections for their own workers, the public and the West Texas/Eastern New Mexico region. If there is a serious crack, breach, leak of a spent fuel canister somewhere along a 1500-mile railroad trip, or once radioactive waste gets to WCS, there is zero way to stop contamination without risking many lives. ‘Irresponsible’ doesn’t begin to explain this multibillion dollar hoax." Fourteen major issues were addressed in the filings submitted to the NRC by the groups.

This deadly radioactive waste would be mainly shipped by rail, although barges and trucks may also be used. "Rail lines often run close to homes, schools, businesses and hospitals," said David Rosen, a concerned Midland resident. "Insurance policies generally don’t cover radiological impacts. An accident with a radiation release could cause disaster, impacting our health and costing billions of dollars to remediate. It could threaten the market for oil produced in the Permian Basin, one of the world’s most prolific sources of oil and gas. A decline in the production of oil and gas would affect the revenues coming in to Texas and New Mexico. Protecting the health, safety and economic well-being of Texans should take precedence over potential profits of a company that wants to bring in deadly nuclear reactor waste. The NRC should protect our health and safety and deny the license application."

"While the waste would not ne in bomb grade form, a single train car would carry as much plutonium as was in the bomb dropped on Nagasaki," said Tom "Smitty" Smith," Special Projects Director for Public Citizen’s Texas Office. "Radioactive waste moving through highly populated cities across the country could be targeted for sabotage by terrorists. An accident could catastrophe in major cities such as Houston, San Antonio, Dallas/Ft. Worth, El Paso or Midland. The waste would likely travel by rail alongside Highways I-10, I-20, I-30 and I-40 and then through the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex. Why should West Texas be targeted as ground zero for the nation’s radioactive waste, which was created elsewhere? Other communities don’t want to store the dangerous waste they created, but why should we take it? "

The state of Texas could get stuck with huge costs if there was a radiation release. A report by Dr. Marvin Resnikoff on the consequences of sabotage, found that cleanup costs could range from $3.5 billion to $45 billion if casks were penetrated, but not perforated. Transportation sabotage events in which the casks are fully perforated could result in cleanup costs of $463 billion to $648 billion.

Opposition to the plan to dump on Texas keeps growing," said Karen Hadden, Executive Director of the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition. "Resolutions against transport of dangerous radioactive waste were passed by Bexar, Dallas, Nueces, El Paso and Midland Counties and by the cities of Midland, San Antonio and Denton. When people learn about what the plan to dump nuclear reactor waste on Texas, they don’t want it. Over 20,000 people have filed comments with the NRC rejecting this proposal. They want to protect the lives of their families."

"Federal regulations prohibit foreign ownership and control of WCS’s partner is Orano, a company largely owned by the French government. Orano would have a 51% share of the joint venture, giving them a controlling interest. This violates Foreign Ownership and Control regulations designed to keep the U.S. secure. Countries may be allies today, but at odds in the future. Relations with France could become increasingly strained under the current Administration.

"This plan would especially impact minority communities. It’s a major environmental justice issue," said Adrian Shelley, Director of Public Citizen’s Texas Office. "In some areas within ½ mile of railroad tracks and switching yards, over 70% of the people are minorities. More than half of them speak Spanish at home and some don’t speak English well. The NRC should make the license application available in Spanish so that people can read about the risky project which could endanger their families."

"Public opposition to this plan can work. Texans have stopped 7 other proposals for high and low nuclear waste dumps over the last 40 years" said Diane D’Arrigo, Radioactive Waste Project Director for the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS)

"The first step in the least risky approach to dealing with high-level radioactive waste would be to stop making more. Waste that already exists should be stored in robust, hardened, monitored, inspected and repairable storage systems designed. These must be built and maintained to prevent leaks, and be stored at or as near as possible to the original reactor sites. Nuclear waste should not be moved until there is permanent place that can isolate it. The NRC claims that irradiated nuclear fuel can be kept onsite in dry storage for 60 years after reactors cease operating." continued D’Arrigo.

The public can comment on the license application until November 19th. Comments on WCS/ ISP’s Consolidated Interim Storage Facility should include Docket ID NRC-2016-0231, and be emailed to

Comment letters can also be sent from


"We Don’t Want It "Says Group Concerned about Potential Radioactive Waste Impacts on Health, Safety and Existing Industries

For Immediate Release

April 30th 2018

For more information contact:
Karen Hadden – 512-797-8481
Gene Harbaugh 575-361-2245
Jimi Gadzia 575-317-9110
Noel Marquez 575-626-9306

(Roswell, NM) A press conference held today at Eastern New Mexico University in Roswell featured speakers concerned about the health, safety and financial impacts of a controversial high-level radioactive waste storage project, proposed for a site between Hobbs and Carlsbad. The NRC will host an open house there today from 4-7 pm and a public meeting from 7-10 pm which will include public comment.

Holtec seeks "interim" storage of the nation’s deadly high-level radioactive waste, which they hope will be for 120 years. An unsafe de facto permanent dump site could be created and the waste might never move again if there is no political will or inadequate funding in the future. The company plans to transport 10,000 canisters of irradiated reactor fuel rods from around the county and store them near the surface in New Mexico, inviting disaster and creating massive risks. This is more waste than has been created by all U.S. nuclear reactors to date.

"The New Mexico dairy industry currently has a total economic impact exceeding $5 billion annually, second only to oil and gas revenues in economic impact to our state," said dairy owner and operator Al Squire. "The dairy industry currently provides employment for nearly 6,000 people directly and over 17,000 related jobs. A contamination event that released radionuclides into our towns or farmland, irrigation and drinking water, or into the air that we and our animals breathe could cause serious disruption of our ability to market highly perishable dairy products. An entire industry could be destroyed in the midst of widespread consumer panic that would most certainly follow such an accident."

"If the waste comes here it might never move again. We could get stuck with an inadequate de facto permanent dump, not designed for the long-term, creating potential for disaster," said Pastor Emeritus Gene Harbaugh, founder of Citizen’s with Questions in Carlsbad, New Mexico. Furthermore, the rail line infrastructure in this region is in poor condition, so transporting the very heavy dangerous waste would come with huge risks. Who would pay for infrastructure improvements and at what cost?"

"My family and I own and operate Graham Farms, a 100-acre pecan arm here in Roswell that we started in 1965, said Roswell native Jimi Gadzia. "Just the proximity of this deadly high-level radioactive waste to our food crops could devastate our industry. Any leakage or accident could threaten our farm, our crop and our very way of life."

"As an oilman, I am very concerned about the effect of a leak, whether accidental or through terrorism, on the oil and gas industry. No one would want radioactive oil, and no one would want to work in an area contaminated by radiation," said Randy Prude, a Midland oilman and County Commissioner. "Midland County Texas passed a resolution opposing the risky transport of high-level radioactive waste through our county. I invite New Mexico counties to join with Dallas, Bexar, Nueces and Midland Counties and Lake Arthur, New Mexico by passing similar resolutions and sending them to the NRC."

"Our lands are not the nation’s dumping ground for dangerous high-level radioactive waste, which brings risks for cancers, birth defects and deaths. Those who created the waste should take responsibility for it." said Noel Marquez an artist from Artesia and co-founder of Alliance for Environmental Strategies, based in Southeast New Mexico. "It would be an extreme environmental and economic injustice for the rest of the nation to dump deadly radioactive waste on New Mexico. We’ve already been burdened with the contamination from uranium mining, processing, weapons and radioactive dumping that has been carried on the backs of New Mexico’s native peoples, affecting their health and lands. Now Holtec want to continue the contamination in the southeast area and Texas border area where the Hispanic population is the majority."

Pecan farming has annual revenues of over $213 million in the state. Chavez County alone produced over 4 million pounds of pecans. Tourism in Chavez county creates $158 million in revenue employing 4,660 of 12.6% of the workforce in 2015. In Lea County tourism accounted for $186 million in revenue, employing 6,000 or 10.85% of the workforce. Eddy and Lea Counties are the two richest oil and gas producing counties in the country. The industry employs over 8,600 people. Why risk more than 20 thousand existing jobs for 55 jobs at a dangerous radioactive waste storage site?" asked Jimi Gadzia.

"There is everything to lose with the 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 and people need to act now to stop this massive mistake that imperils people in New Mexico as well as along transport routes throughout the country," said Karen Hadden, director of the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition.

People should speak up at the public meeting tonight at 7 the Eastern New Mexico University Campus Union building, in Hobbs on May 1st at the Lea County Events Center and on May 3rd at the Eddy County Fire service training center. Comments can be submitted to the NRC until May 29, 2018.

More information can be found at


Residents Seek to Protect New Mexico from Nation’s Most Dangerous Radioactive Waste

For Immediate Release

April 10, 2018

Leona Morgan, Nuclear Issues Study Group, 505-879-8547, protectnewmexico(at)
Don Hancock, SW Research and Information Center, 505-262-1862, sricdon(at),
Karen Hadden,, (512) 797-8481, karendhadden(at)
Photos here: Dropbox photos. Entrevistas disponible en Español

Over 10,000 Rail Cars of Radioactive Waste – a train wreck waiting to happen

Albuquerque, N.M.–Activists inflated a mock radioactive waste canister at a news conference today to point out how risky the shipment and storage of the nation’s most radioactive nuclear reactor wastes is to New Mexico. Holtec International has a controversial plan to store up to 100,000 tons of the nation’s most dangerous nuclear reactor waste, for as long as 120 years at a site between Hobbs and Carlsbad.

Over 10,000 rail cars of high-level radioactive waste will be dumped on New Mexico if we don’t stop this project. Opponents are concerned about the health, safety, transportation, financial, and environmental justice aspects of storing high-level radioactive waste, that would impact thousands of generations to come.

Holtec’s license application to build and operate a storage facility in Lea County, New Mexico, has been accepted as complete by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The agency has announced its intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement on Holtec’s proposal and will take written comments and hold three public meetings in Roswell, Hobbs and Carlsbad. At each location, a court reporter will be available to record comments. In New Mexico, Spanish peaking staff will assist with translation. Public comments will be accepted until May 29.

"Starting with uranium mining and milling … to modern weapons production, uranium enrichment, and storage of low-level and transuranic wastes, New Mexico has been targeted as a national sacrifice zone for too long," said Leona Morgan, Diné activist and co-founder of Nuclear Issues Study Group. "New Mexico is the birthplace of nuclear colonialism. We have been impacted by just about every step in the nuclear fuel chain! We did not generate this waste from nuclear reactors that is intended to come here. So why should we take it? As a state with many indigenous nations and people of color, and being at the tail end of several measures of quality of life, it is environmental racism at its core to keep dumping on New Mexico. And it’s time to stop!"

"Our land is not the nation’s dumping ground for dangerous high-level radioactive waste, with its risks for cancer, birth defects, and deaths. Those who created the waste should take responsibility for it. Our sacred land is not their pay toilet," said Pat Cardona, speaking on behalf of Rose Gardner, founder of Alliance for Environmental Strategies a community group based in Southeast New Mexico opposing the radioactive-waste proposal. "We ask people from New Mexico and around the country to support us in halting this dangerous plan, which not only creates risks for us at ground zero, but creates risks along transport routes nationwide. New Mexico already has more than our fair share of radioactive poisons. We don’t want any more! We do not consent to taking high-level radioactive waste!"

There is growing opposition to radioactive waste storage throughout New Mexico. Nine New Mexico Senators and 21 state representatives were concerned enough about the proposal that they recently wrote a letter asking the NRC to give the state time to explore health, safety, financial, and transportation risks to the state of New Mexico.

As one of the New Mexican representatives who signed the letter to NRC, Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard states, "It will be imperative for the state legislature, its oversight committees and the public to have an opportunity to have all of their safety concerns and questions properly acknowledged, addressed, and answered. These concerns are not limited to: canister design, proposed transportation routes, and planned response to catastrophic events."

"To this end, a number of legislators had written to the NRC, asking for the scoping period to be extended so that the matter could be considered when the state legislature was in session during the winter of 2019. Because that request has been denied, me and many of my colleagues are now asking that the NRC appear before the appropriate interim committee to have safety concerns about the proposed storage siting addressed. Today we call on all New Mexicans to continue to pressure Holtec and the NRC to take our concerns seriously. Stay active. Stay involved; and together, we will continue to ensure that all safety issues are answered," said Rep.
Garcia Richard.

According to the application, high-level radioactive waste could end up being stored for up to 120 years, longer than New Mexico has existed as a state. The federal government has promised and failed for more than 35 years to develop a permanent safe storage or disposal for high-level reactor wastes.

"What happens if the federal government breaks it promise to move this waste away or won’t pay to clean it up?" asked Sister Marlene Perrotte, speaking on behalf of New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light. "This is an ethical and moral concern that affects communities and God’s creation. Most existing low-level radioactive waste sites in the country have leaked and Congress has failed to appropriate enough money to clean them up. Sixty-three faith leaders in New Mexico have now signed onto a letter expressing questions and concerns about health, safety, and transportation risks of importing and storing high-level radioactive waste. As faith leaders, we want to ensure a safe future for generations to come."

The waste would consist of irradiated fuel rods that have been inside a nuclear power reactor. These fuel rods still contain most of the original uranium, along with plutonium, cesium and strontium. In close proximity, radiation exposure from casks is possible during transport. Direct exposure to unshielded fuel rods is lethal. In just the last three years in New Mexico, there have been five train derailments.

"Transportation of radioactive waste is a train wreck waiting to happen," said Eileen Shaughnessy, co-founder of Albuquerque-based Nuclear Issues Study Group. "More than 10,000 rail cars would haul this irradiated waste, rumbling on rails throughout the country and near major cities in New Mexico, in a process that would take 20 years or more. Likely rail routes would run along I-40, I-25, and from Belen to Carlsbad. While the waste would not be in bomb form, each rail car would carry more deadly plutonium than in the bomb dropped on Nagasaki."

Shaughnessy continues, "Studies should be done regarding the risks to engineers and people along rail lines in New Mexico and throughout the country. The NRC admits that some radiation would routinely escape the transport casks. What impacts would there be to engineers, rail workers and community members?"

"Holtec’s proposal is that the U.S. Department of Energy will pay for the transportation costs. But that’s not allowed by federal law, which prohibits DOE from paying for transportation to a private storage site, like Holtec’s," said Don Hancock, Director of the Nuclear Waste
Program at Southwest Research and Information Center

The NRC has scheduled the first public scoping meeting at its Rockville headquarters, which can be accessed via webinar. The subsequent three will be in New Mexico. Each is an opportunity to learn more about the proposal and to submit public comments. "Public comments can and do make a difference," said Hancock.

NRC has set three public scoping meetings and one open house as follows: April 25 at the NRC Headquarters in Rockville, Maryland; April 30 in Roswell, NM (open house); May 1 in Hobbs, NM; and May 3 in Carlsbad, NM.

NRC Meeting Dates & Locations:

NRC Meeting Schedule April/May 2018

Comments can be submitted in person at above public meetings or online at:

Comments can also be submitted by mail, with "RE: Docket ID NRC-2018-0052", to: May Ma,
Office of Administration, Mail Stop: TWFN–7– A60M, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission,
Washington, DC 20555– 0001.

Next Cask Tour Stops

  • Albuquerque, Tuesday, April 10 at 11:45 am
  • Carlsbad, Wednesday, April 11 at 10 a.m.
  • Hobbs, Wednesday, April 11 at 2 p.m.
  • Roswell, Thursday, April 12 at 10 a.m.
  • Artesia, Thursday, April 12, at 2 p.m.

Details and additional Cask Tour dates will be posted online at:

Websites with more information: