NM ob­jects to nu­clear fuel stor­age plan

Elected lead­ers in SE NM sup­port the fa­cil­ity pro­posal


New Mex­ico is strongly ob­ject­ing to fed­eral nu­clear reg­u­la­tors’ pre­lim­i­nary rec­om­men­da­tion that a li­cense be granted to build a multi­bil­lion-dol­lar stor­age fa­cil­ity for spent nu­clear fuel from com­mer­cial power plants around the U.S.

State of­fi­cials, in a let­ter sub­mit­ted Tues­day to the Nu­clear Reg­u­la­tory Com­mis­sion, said that the site is ge­o­log­i­cally un­suit­able and that tech­ni­cal anal­y­sis has been in­ad­e­quate. They also say reg­u­la­tors have failed to con­sider en­vi­ron­men­tal jus­tice con­cerns and have there­fore fallen short of re­quire­ments spelled out by fed­eral en­vi­ron­men­tal laws.

The let­ter also re­it­er­ates the state’s con­cerns that the stor­age fa­cil­ity would be­come a per­ma­nent dump­ing ground for the spent fuel, as the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has no per­ma­nent plan for deal­ing with the waste that has been pil­ing up at nu­clear power plants.

The of­fi­cials pointed to a legacy of con­tam­i­na­tion in New Mex­ico that in­cludes ura­nium mining and milling and decades of nu­clear re­search and bomb-mak­ing at na­tional lab­o­ra­to­ries, say­ing mi­nor­ity and low-in­come pop­u­la­tions al­ready have suf­fered dis­pro­por­tion­ate health and en­vi­ron­men­tal ef­fects as a re­sult.

Given the con­cerns, state of­fi­cials wrote that a draft en­vi­ron­men­tal re­view of the project “fails to demon­strate that res­i­dents of New Mex­ico, in­clud­ing vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tions, will be ad­e­quately pro­tected from ex­po­sure to the ra­dioac­tive and toxic con­tam­i­nants that could be re­leased to air and wa­ter by the pro­posed ac­tion.”

A group of Demo­cratic state law­mak­ers also raised con­cerns.

Elected lead­ers in south­east­ern New Mex­ico sup­port the project, say­ing it would bring jobs and rev­enue to the re­gion and pro­vide a tem­po­rary op­tion for deal­ing with the spent fuel.


Of­fi­cials in 2015 an­nounce a plan for an in­terim stor­age fa­cil­ity for spent nu­clear fuel in south­east­ern New Mex­ico. The state is strongly ob­ject­ing to the project.

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