Editorial: Holtec project is safe, good for NM - and the nation - Albuquerque Journal

Editorial: Holtec project is safe, good for NM – and the nation

“This is our chance to … send a very strong message to the federal government that New Mexico does not consent to this project,” says state Sen. Jeff Steinborn, who is carrying a bill to strangle a temporary nuclear storage facility in Southeast New Mexico.

But who does Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, mean by “New Mexico?” Certainly not Hobbs Mayor Sam Cobb, a fellow Democrat, who supports Holtec International’s plans to build a $2.4 billion interim nuclear waste storage facility between Carlsbad and Hobbs.

Not Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway, who warned in a recent Journal guest column Steinborn’s bill would “undo years of careful study and evaluation.”

Not the Eddy and Lea county commissions, Carlsbad City Council or Hobbs City Commission, who formed the Eddy Lea Energy Alliance and bought a thousand acres of remote cattle grazing land for the project.

Steinborn’s Senate Bill 54 seeks to kill the project by holding back permits for such things as industrial wastewater. So would House Bill 127. Meanwhile, Holtec representatives say they expect the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission to issue a facility license in the coming months. The state has sued the NRC saying it is rushing the project.

A Blue Ribbon Commission under President Barack Obama released a report a decade ago saying the nation had an urgent need to construct a consolidated geological repository for nuclear waste after funding for the $15 billion Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository dried up in the face of political opposition. Similar opposition to Holtec also isn’t grounded in science but in politics that fail to see the bridge nuclear power offers to clean energy, the expertise in communities like Southeast New Mexico’s and the public safety need for both projects.

Currently, there is nowhere to transfer more than 70,000 metric tons of used reactor fuel from power plants in 73 different sites across 39 states, some next to rivers or atop water tables.

Holtec opponents raise the legitimate question of how long is “interim” and deserve an answer. Under the site licensing, the multilayer storage canisters are certified to last 40 years, can be renewed for another 40 years and will be evaluated for aging. Overall, they are to last 200-300 years.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says the project would jeopardize the oil and gas industry and agricultural operations. But NRC scientists in charge of ensuring the safe use of radioactive materials said in a draft environmental impact statement that Holtec’s impacts on land and water, industry and public health would be minimal.

As Janway points out, the region’s “nuclear triangle” has a high level of expertise and experience supporting this industry — from the U.S. Department of Energy’s $19 billion Waste Isolation Pilot Plant southeast of Carlsbad to the $4 billion Urenco USA uranium enrichment plant east of Eunice to the planned spent-fuel storage facility run by Waste Control Specialists and French firm AREVA Inc. just across the Texas line. “We would not have invited Holtec to southeast New Mexico if we believed otherwise,” he wrote.

It’s time to quit kicking this radiation canister down the road.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

Election Guide

Home » Opinion » Editorials » Editorial: Holtec project is safe, good for NM – and the nation


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
Editorial: Want better educational outcomes? Start with getting students ...
Editorials
Woody Allen once said 80% of ... Woody Allen once said 80% of success in life is just showing up. In no setting is this durable conce ...
2
Editorial: NM GOP needs to explain doctored mailer
Editorials
An altered stock image of darkened ... An altered stock image of darkened hands cutting a white child's hair sure does appear to play ...
3
Editorial: Navajo project brings clean water for all a ...
Editorials
Imagine having to rely on hand-pumped ... Imagine having to rely on hand-pumped wells, windmills, earth dams and snowdrifts to gather enough w ...
4
Editorial: Enough disinformation; our elections are secure
Editorials
With the fall general election just ... With the fall general election just over a month away, it bears repeating New Mexico elections are a ...
5
Editorial: Best fiesta commute? Let the pros drive
Editorials
Two things happen in Albuquerque every ... Two things happen in Albuquerque every October: The balloon fiesta delivers fantasy. And the traffic ...
6
Editorial: NM needs leaders who will tackle real water ...
Editorials
Bankruptcy, Ernest Hemingway famously wrote, comes ... Bankruptcy, Ernest Hemingway famously wrote, comes "gradually, then suddenly."  &nb ...
7
Editorial: Crime's unrelenting hold
Editorials
... ...
8
Editorial: Military members deserve clarity on NM election laws
Editorials
Article V of the state Constitution ... Article V of the state Constitution says a person must have "resided continuously in New Mexic ...
9
Editorial: UNM is right to protect all flavors of ...
Editorials
If there's a silver lining to ... If there's a silver lining to the national attention of angry protesters storming a ballroom t ...