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Council opposed to shipping radioactive waste through city

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — After coming to terms on a nearly $1 billion budget during last week’s meeting, Albuquerque city councilors voted 4-3 – with one abstention – to approve a memorial opposing transportation of high-level radioactive waste by railway through the city for temporary consolidated storage in southeastern New Mexico.

Councilors Ken Sanchez, Klarissa Peña, Cynthia Borrego and Pat Davis, all Democrats, supported the memorial, while Republican Councilors Don Harris, Brad Winter and Trudy Jones cast votes in opposition. Councilor Diane Gibson, a Democrat, abstained, citing her former employment with Sandia National Laboratories.

The memorial is in reaction to a Holtec International application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a license to store up to 100,000 tons of spent nuclear reactor fuel in a temporary in-ground storage facility in Lea County, halfway between Carlsbad and Hobbs.

But the highlight – if there is such a thing when discussing the issue of nuclear waste – came when Sam Pruitt, a sixth-grade student-to-be at Monte Vista Elementary School, had his say about the matter.

“Kids like us need to be protected by our government, not put in danger,” Pruitt said. “If the national government won’t protect us, it’s up to the City Council to do what they can to protect growing children who live in Albuquerque from being exposed to this dangerous nuclear waste.”

A memorial is essentially a statement by the council. It does not require approval by the mayor as do ordinances or resolutions.

Mental health event : A Mental Health Awareness Month event at Civic Plaza last week – hosted by Bernalillo County, the city of Albuquerque and the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Government Commission – featured food trucks, music and around 60 services and program providers.

Bernalillo County Commissioner Lonnie Talbert told event attendees it would be a great day when it’s no longer necessary to conduct mental health awareness events.

“What a day it will be when we wake up and we say, ‘Mental health is being addressed the way like it should every day,’ not just through awareness at an incredible fair like this today, but because we recognize the importance of making sure that the mind and body are taken care of,” Talbert said.

It’s unfortunate, Talbert also said during the short address, that incidents continue to take place across the nation in which an individual doesn’t receive the service and support needed.

“Every day we hear of another event that’s occurring in our country where someone who is troubled is not being given the support they need to take care of themselves,” he said. “Many times, it ends in violence against those who have no issue or challenge with this person, but they happen to be in a place that they shouldn’t be at that time.”

Steve Knight: sknight@abqjournal.com

 

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