Copyright © 2015 Albuquerque Journal
Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Carlsbad leaders recently re-entered a long-running national debate about what the country should do with tons of surplus weapons-grade plutonium – staking opposing views.
The shuttered southeast New Mexico nuclear waste repository known as WIPP has been floated as a potential final resting place for the nuclear material – an idea to which the Department of Energy has warmed in recent years and which Richardson, a former U.S. energy secretary, opposes.
Carlsbad leaders welcome the idea of downblending, or diluting, the nation’s weapons-grade plutonium with inert materials to turn it into transuranic waste that could be permanently disposed of at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.
In a letter sent to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Richardson slammed that idea and urged support for a plan to turn weapons-grade plutonium into “mixed oxide” fuel, or MOX, that could be used at commercial nuclear power plants.