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Public Citizen submits comments to the NRC regarding the license for an interim high-level radioactive waste storage site in New Mexico.

On Monday, July 30, 2018, Public Citizen and the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition submitted comments to the NRC on an application from Holtec seeking a license to put an “interim” storage site for the nation’s deadly high-level radioactive waste, which they anticipate will be for 120 years.  An unsafe, de facto permanent dump site could be created and the waste might never move again if there is no political will or inadequate funding in the future for a permanent waste site. The company plans to transport 10,000 canisters of irradiated reactor fuel rods from around the county and store them near the surface in New Mexico, inviting disaster and creating massive risks. This is more waste than has been created by all U.S. nuclear reactors to date.

“There is everything to lose with this plan to bring the nation’s high-level radioactive waste to New Mexico. The risks to health, safety, security and financial well-being are immense and people need to act now to stop this massive mistake that imperils people in New Mexico as well as along transport routes throughout the country,” said Karen Hadden, director of the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition, who has been working with local opposition groups for months opposing this application and a similar one just across the border in Andrews County, Texas.

The application has been assigned docket number NRC-2018-0052-0058.  We have heard thousands of comments were submitted in opposition to this license application, but expect it will be some time before NRC’s website reflects the actual number of comments submitted, so don’t be fooled by the low number of comments reported on the website.  We had 10,561 people submit comments via our action page and thousands signed comment letters that were submitted by local New Mexican citizens.  On Tuesday after the comment deadline, a Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesperson told a reporter with the Santa Fe New Mexican that they had received more than 2,300 public comments – the overwhelming majority in opposition to the project, but they wouldn’t have a definitive tally for a few weeks.

The application for the site in Andrews, Texas by Waste Control Specialists (WCS) has been resubmitted after the company was bought by private equity firm J.F. Lehman & Co. this Spring and is moving forward.  We expect to be submitting comments for that application by the end of the year.