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NM shouldn’t be nuke dump for distant users

The Albuquerque Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) stands in opposition to the entire cycle of all activities related to the use of nuclear materials. In the spirit of the Kabarak Call, Sixth World Conference of Friends, Kenya, 2012: “We are called to be patterns and examples in a 21st century campaign for peace and eco-justice.” As residents of New Mexico, we are especially appalled by the impact of the nuclear industry cycle on the health and well-being of us all.

Holtec Inc., a private corporation, has announced plans to develop a site in southern New Mexico for the storage of high-level nuclear waste, including all of the highly radioactive spent fuel rods from nuclear power plants in the U.S. This proposal has been promoted by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The liability for the inevitable disaster is unclear in this proposal. This plan not only threatens to concentrate high-level nuclear waste in one place, but also anticipates the transport of highly radioactive materials, such as spent nuclear fuel rods, on our railways and roads, through our cities and communities to their anticipated storage site in southern New Mexico. By disposing of this dangerous nuclear material in an area that is not a site of electricity production by nuclear power plants, this plan encourages the distant users of nuclear power to continue to produce new nuclear materials, thus contributing to the threat to other communities, including indigenous peoples and others located near sites where uranium mining is proposed. Increased transport of high-level nuclear waste poses an increased security risk for theft of such materials from rail yards in urban and rural areas.

The best solution at this time is to continue to store the rods in place in hardened containment with as little transport as possible. Since the Holtec proposal is only for an interim storage site to operate for 40-120 years, the proposal fails to address the ultimate issue: long-term disposal. If there are no long-term disposal sites, the lands and peoples of New Mexico will again be a de facto nuclear dumping spot.

The use of nuclear materials for weapons, energy and otherwise, except for limited medical uses, and the entire cycle of uranium mining through ultimate disposal, challenge Friends’ deepest beliefs. From our earliest history, Friends have expressed opposition to war and the preparation for war. We as Friends are committed to live in right relationship with indigenous peoples within whose lands we have come to dwell, to “consider the condition of such who are depressed in answering our demands,”(John Woolman, Plea for the Poor, 1764) and to live as careful and caring stewards of the environment and resources drawn from the land.

The different stages in the cycle of extraction, production, use and disposal of radioactive materials are inseparably connected. Plans and proposals for one part of the cycle have implications for all and cannot be considered in isolation. These interrelated threats to peace, environmental stewardship, right relationship and safety compel Albuquerque Friends to refuse our consent for approval of the high-level nuclear waste storage facility proposed by Holtec Inc. and promoted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, or any other comparable plans for concentrated storage of high-level nuclear waste.

Albuquerque Friends urge that nuclear wastes be made as secure as possible close to where they are currently located until effective means are discovered and developed for their transmutation into less hazardous forms. Only after neutralization is achieved would safe transport and safe long-term disposal sites be sought. …

Alternatives for meeting the energy needs of our nation and our world that are environmentally sustainable and honor our right relationship with our indigenous and non-indigenous neighbors are the only way forward. Worldwide, there is promising research and application of alternatives, such as wind, solar, geothermal, tidal, hydroelectric and other non-polluting, sustainable sources for global power and energy. Policies and programs to reduce demand are imperative.

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