Regional & National Groups Raise Dozens of Legal Objections to Threat of World’s Largest Radioactive Waste Dump in New Mexico

Published January 16, 2019

Hearing Expected to Lay Groundwork for Lawsuits Radioactive Waste Could Move Through More than 40 States

ALBUQUERQUE N.M. — Community groups and industry will raise their objections to bringing deadly and illegal high-level radioactive waste to New Mexico at a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) hearing next week. Six parties are objecting to the license application submitted by Holtec International to store up to 173,600 metric tons of waste, more than double what exists in the United States today.

The Halt Holtec Coalition asserts that consolidated “interim” facilities are illegal under federal law. They emphasize that the site is not suitable, and that storage and national transport threaten food, water, health, and economy. New Mexicans are concerned that bringing in irradiated (“spent”) nuclear fuel for supposedly temporary storage would likely become permanent. Transport relies on unsafe, untested containers to be shipped on rails throughout the country. This hearing will determine which parties have standing and which objections will be reviewed.

Of the more than 40 objections, some were raised by multiple intervenors. Objections range from lack of legal authorization of NRC to license such a dump to environmental-justice violations and transport dangers. Specifically, regarding the proposed location, objections focus on: threats to drinking water sources; threats to Native American, historic, and pre-historic properties; impacts from nearby brine water, potash mining, and gas fracking; earthquake risks; and impacts to endangered species.

WHAT:  Halt Holtec Coalition Press Conference Opposing World’s Largest Radioactive Waste Dump

WHEN:  3:30-4:30 p.m. Tuesday, January 22, 2019

WHERE:  State Bar of New Mexico Boardroom, 5121 Masthead St NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109

WHO: Representatives and attorneys from local, regional, and national groups, spanning public interest, environment, and environmental justice, will speak on objections to the proposal by Holtec International and New Mexico-based Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance for a “Consolidated Interim Storage Facility” between Carlsbad and Hobbs. The parties to the proceeding (and legal counsel) are:

  • Alliance for Environmental Strategies (Nancy Simmons, Albuquerque, NM);
  • Beyond Nuclear (Diane Curran, Washington, D.C.; Mindy Goldstein, Turner Environmental Law Clinic, Emory University, Atlanta, GA);
  • Sierra Club (Wally Taylor, Sierra Club Nuclear-Free Campaign, Cedar Rapids, IA);
  • A seven-group coalition including Don’t Waste Michigan, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination (MI), Public Citizen (TX and DC), San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (CA), Nuclear Energy Information Service (IL), Citizens’ Environmental Coalition (NY), and Nuclear Issues Study Group (NM) (Terry Lodge, Toledo, OH).

WHY:  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s three-judge Atomic Safety and Licensing Board will hear oral arguments to determine which groups have standing and which objections will be accepted or rejected regarding Holtec proposal for dump. The hearing will take place at the State Bar of New Mexico Auditorium, 5121 Masthead Street NE, Albuquerque, NM, on Wednesday, January 23, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and January 24 as needed.

NOTE: 

Please be advised that tribal, local, state and federal officials who are interested in participating at the 1/23 pre-hearing should immediately make a request to:

ATOMIC SAFETY AND LICENSING BOARD Paul S. Ryerson, Chair Administrative Judge E-mail: paul.ryerson@nrc.gov Nicholas G. Trikouros Administrative Judge E-mail: nicholas.trikouros@nrc.gov Dr. Gary S. Arnold Administrative Judge E-mail: gary.arnold@nrc.gov

cc; U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel Mail Stop: T-3F23 Washington, DC 20555-0001 Joseph McManus, Law Clerk E-mail: joseph.mcmanus@nrc.gov Taylor A. Mayhall E-mail: taylor.mayhall@nrc.gov Office of Commission Appellate Adjudication U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Washington, DC 20555-0001 E-mail: ocaamail@nrc.gov

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Office of the General Counsel Mail Stop – O-15 D21 Washington, DC 20555-0001

Objections against the NRC illegally considering this license application and the application itself were filed on September 14, 2018.

 

Additional information available online:

NRC ORDER: Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Oral Arguments in Albuquerque

Summary of Holtec/ELEA CISF Licensing Application Proceeding

Overview of Environmental Coalition Objections to Holtec/ELEA’s CISF and NRC ASLB Proceeding

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