U.S. Sen. Tom Udall is encouraging Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s new administration to reconsider a state government decision made just before she took office Jan. 1 that changes how radioactive waste volume is measured at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, in effect allowing more waste to placed in the underground repository near Carlsbad.
Udall said last week that limits on how much waste WIPP can hold were critical to federal-state negotiations that led to WIPP’s creation “and were a major reason New Mexico agreed to this mission in the first place.”
“I am encouraging the new administration to take a hard look at this action, and hopeful that it will pause and reconsider this last-minute change that has major ramifications for our state,” the senator said in an email statement.
The controversial state permit modification for WIPP, approved by then-New Mexico Environment Department Secretary Butch Tongate on Dec. 21, changes the way waste volume is calculated to exclude empty space inside waste packaging. With the alteration, WIPP becomes only about a third full instead of 50 percent full.
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