Published October 22, 2019
Pueblo leaders voice opposition to license applications to transport and store high level radioactive nuclear waste in New Mexico and Texas
SANTA FE, N.M. – The All Pueblo Council of Governors, representing the collective voice of the member 20 sovereign Pueblo nations of New Mexico and Texas, convened Thursday affirming commitment to protect Pueblo natural and cultural resources from risks associated with transport of the nation’s growing inventory of high level nuclear waste from sites across the country to proposed semi-permanent sites in southeastern New Mexico and mid-western Texas. The Council adopted a resolution expressing opposition to the license applications by private companies, Holtec International and Interim Storage Partners LLC, authorizing transport nuclear material, construction, and operation of a proposed multi-billion dollar consolidated interim storage facilities in Lea County, New Mexico and Andrews County, Texas.
Concerns from the Council include the lack of federal tribal consultation regarding determination of transport routes and availability of resources, training, and infrastructure for tribal emergency preparedness, response, and risk management in potential incidences of accidental radiological release during shipment. The resolution urges a requirement for meaningful government-to-government consultation with Pueblos by federal regulators on transport concerns, and calls upon the leadership of New Mexico’s Congressional Delegation to take proactive steps in support of Pueblos.
“We are very concerned that this project, proposing the transport of nuclear material currently stored at 80 commercial reactors in 35 states across the country, lacks meaningful consultation afforded our Pueblos and subjects our communities, environment, and sacred sites to unimaginable risk over many decades”, said Chairman E. Paul Torres of the All Pueblo Council of Governors.
The All Pueblo Council of Governors joins growing local opposition and concern on the project including New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, the New Mexico State Land Office, three of New Mexico’s Congressional Delegation members, and many environmental groups. The City of Albuquerque, the City of Bernalillo, and the City of Las Cruces have each passed resolutions opposing the project. Many local concerns have also pointed to the absence of federal prospects for a permanent repository.
“Every community deserves to live free from the impacts of radiation, but transportation of nuclear materials puts native communities at risk of radiation contamination along the route to Holtec’s proposed storage facility. Our communities have already borne the brunt of the nuclear fuel cycle, and this country is still failing to address those contaminated sites. I stand with the All Pueblo Council of Governors to protect our resources and our families from the brutal consequences of storing nuclear materials at a temporary facility New Mexico or Texas,” said Congresswoman Deb Haaland.