Bill reignites Holtec nuclear waste debate - Albuquerque Journal

Bill reignites Holtec nuclear waste debate

A rendering of the consolidated interim nuclear waste storage facility proposed by Holtec International to be located between Carlsbad and Hobbs. A bill that cleared the Senate Conservation Committee on Tuesday would ban disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste in New Mexico. (Holtec International)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

A bill aimed at banning storage of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste in New Mexico has reignited debate over Holtec International’s plans for an interim nuclear waste storage facility between Carlsbad and Hobbs.

Senate Bill 54, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, cleared the Senate Conservation Committee 5-3 on Tuesday, with no recommendation.

The U.S. does not have a permanent storage site for the nation’s spent nuclear fuel.

“This is our chance to … send a very strong message to the federal government that New Mexico does not consent to this project,” Steinborn said.

Holtec representatives said Tuesday that the company expects a facility license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the next few months.

“The transport and storage is safe against any natural disaster, whether it be an earthquake or a tornado, and it’s safe against manmade disasters like terrorist events,” said Ed Mayer, Holtec program director.

A draft NRC analysis reports that the project would have minimal impacts on land and water, industry and public health.

But, even with NRC approval, New Mexico could not issue Holtec permits for such things as industrial wastewater if the bill passes.

“With a license in hand, then we would work with the state and take the next step,” Mayer said. “That’s a company decision that will have to be made.”

Holtec is planning an initial $230 million facility to store spent nuclear fuel in 500 stainless-steel canisters.

The company would ship waste by rail from nuclear power plants to the 1,000-acre New Mexico site.

A full buildout would cost $2.4 billion and store up to 10,000 canisters.

New Mexico has sued the NRC over the facility. The lawsuit alleges the agency is rushing a project that the state says would jeopardize both the economy and the environment.

Texas is also opposed to an interim storage facility in that state.

Sarah Cottrell Propst, Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department secretary, said there is no funding to help New Mexico ensure safe transport.

“Interim in this case effectively means permanent,” Cottrell Propst said. “We have great concern about that public safety component of any private waste moving through the state to a facility.”

Southeast New Mexico’s elected officials tout the project as an economic boon.

Holtec says the site could employ 325 people for construction, security and manufacturing.

The company has promised a regional job training center, which could diversify the area’s energy economy, said Lea County Commissioner Jonathan Sena.

“I want safe, good jobs for my kids and for other young families, other minority families like mine,” Sena said.

The bill now heads to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Theresa Davis is a Report for America corps member covering water and the environment for the Albuquerque Journal.

Home » ABQnews Seeker » Bill reignites Holtec nuclear waste debate


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
NM expands help with filling court forms
ABQnews Seeker
Court-scribe program helps people understand and ... Court-scribe program helps people understand and complete documents
2
PNM rate case would raise bills by 75 cents ...
ABQnews Seeker
The minimal impact on bills reflects ... The minimal impact on bills reflects substantial savings f
3
BioPark welcomes first-ever penguin hatchling
ABQnews Seeker
Mom and Dad are keeping healthy ... Mom and Dad are keeping healthy baby penguin warm
4
NMSU team suspends basketball player
ABQnews Seeker
Athletic Director makes school's first issuance ... Athletic Director makes school's first issuance on discipline since shooting
5
He faces 33 years in prison for raping a ...
ABQnews Seeker
A man who is facing up ... A man who is facing up to 33 years in prison after being convicted of raping a child has cut off the GPS monitor ...
6
Some retired educators are, slowly, returning to classrooms.
ABQnews Seeker
New Mexico's plan to entice retired ... New Mexico's plan to entice retired educators to come back to the classroom is working — even if only by a little. As of ...
7
Speaker Brian Egolf resigns from PRC nominating panel, ending ...
ABQnews Seeker
Outgoing House Speaker Brian Egolf has ... Outgoing House Speaker Brian Egolf has avoided an ethics hearing by resigning from the state nominating committee he had appointed himself to earlier this ...
8
Father earns life sentence in toddler’s death
ABQnews Seeker
Fatal injuries to a 2-year-old boy ... Fatal injuries to a 2-year-old boy in 2018 resulted in a sentence of life in prison for the child's father, who was convicted by ...
9
An APD officer's law enforcement certificate was revoked in ...
ABQnews Seeker
The officer had been fired in ... The officer had been fired in May 2021, and another officer who was involved was fired but has been reinstated