ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Watchdog groups are appealing a recent permit change approval by New Mexico regulators that could ultimately allow for more waste to be placed at the U.S. government’s only underground nuclear waste repository.
The approval by the state Environment Department came in the final days of former Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration. The change was requested earlier by the U.S. Energy Department and the contractor that operates the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.
The permit modification changes the way the volume of waste is calculated. Specifically, it excludes the empty space inside waste packaging containers.
The Southwest Research and Information Center and Nuclear Watch New Mexico argue the modification is unlawful.
Critics also are concerned the change could be a first step in expanding the repository’s mission to hold other kinds of waste.