Massive containers hold spent nuclear fuel. Photo by Nuclear Regulatory Commission from US [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]
Public Interest Organizations Denied Hearing on Nuclear Waste Dump in New Mexico
Washington D.C. - On Tuesday, May 7, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board summarily terminated Public Intervenors' requests for an evidentiary hearing challenging Holtec International’s proposed high level nuclear waste dump in southeastern New Mexico.
As one of the Intervenors in this case, San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace is concerned that once again the NRC is protecting the nuclear industry and not the American public.
Holtec, a vendor of dry cask storage systems, has proposed to store high level wastes from the nation’s commercial nuclear power plants in Lea County in the southeastern corner of New Mexico, a poor community of color. High-level radioactive waste from Diablo Canyon might well be sent to this location for “interim storage.” Holtec proposes to store well over 100,000 metric tons of this deadly material in a “temporary” facility that has not been proven to be safe and that could very well turn into a de facto spent nuclear fuel repository for hundreds of years or even forever.
This license application to construct and operate a “consolidated interim storage facility'” for spent nuclear fuel in New Mexico is a blatant violation of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA 1982, Amended 1987). The entire application is contingent on the Department of Energy taking title to the spent nuclear fuel. But this is forbidden under current law unless it is a Permanent Repository. Concealed from the Public is the true intent of Holtec International – to make a profit by storing high level nuclear waste at unprotected facilities 300 years or more.
Over 200 million U.S. Citizens living along transportation routes will be placed in peril. These Mobile Chernobyls are fast tracked to take to the rail, roads, and waterways.
Disregard for the current NWPA law by proceeding as if it does not exist is not acceptable. This railroad of a ruling by the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel will be appealed to the NRC Commission as prescribed by the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). Once these remedies have been exhausted appeal to federal courts is then in order.
San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace Spokesperson Molly Johnson states, “The NRC again demonstrates that it has been fully captured by the industry it is charged to regulate. The NRC process is shamelessly designed to prevent the public from participating in decision-making."
Separate hearing petitions were filed by Beyond Nuclear, Sierra Club, Don't Waste Michigan et al, and Alliance for Environmental Strategies, all in behalf of the public interest. The Don't Waste Michigan (MI) et al is a Coalition of seven groups including Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination (MI), Citizens' Environmental Coalition (NY), and San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (CA), Nuclear Energy Information Service (IL), Public Citizen (TX), Nuclear Issues Study Group (NM).
The ASLB Ruling/Memorandum and Order can be found here: https://adamswebsearch2.nrc.gov/webSearch2/main.jsp?AccessionNumber=ML19127A026