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US Residents air concerns over borehole project

“I’m one of those who are skeptical about this project. I think the facts on this project are pretty well established. We don’t know for sure what DOE has in mind for Otero County,” Coffman said. “We don’t know for sure what this project entails. I can tell you what drives this project, and that is a huge problem with nuclear waste that’s building up in power plants and nuclear waste from bomb making that is in the various labs in this country.”

http://www.alamogordonews.com/story/news/local/community/2017/02/10/residents-air-concerns-over-borehole-project/97753808/

ALAMOGORDO — Otero County residents voiced their concerns and opinions on the controversial Salt Basin Deep Borehole Research Project proposed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in conjunction with TerranearPMC (TPMC), an environmental company that works across the country.

TPMC C.E.O. Kenneth T. Fillman along with Program Manager and Senior Geologist Peter Gram were at Thursday’s County Commission meeting to brief Commissioners on the project once again and answer any questions.

According to Fillman, TPMC was awarded one of four research contracts from DOE to conduct deep borehole research on private property in Otero County. The research is to determine if the geology would be suitable for evaluating the feasibility of the concept of deep borehole disposal of nuclear material.

Fillman reassured Commissioners and the public that it’s merely a research project only and TPMC has secured a land lease with the private property owner, Greg Duggar, which states that no nuclear waste material will be stored or disposed at the site now or in the future.

He also stated that the DOE will also enter into an agreement with Otero County that no waste will be stored or disposed at the site now or in the future as well.

Fillman explained the DOE phased schedule of the project.

He said phase I is public outreach which would occur now until May. The DOE may eliminate a site at any time during this time. Phase II is permitting and draft work planning which would occur from May through August. At this point, the DOE may eliminate up to three sites. Phase III is the final work planning which is from August through November. The DOE will have a site selected and possibly keep another one for backup for up to six months. Phase IV is the drilling and testing stage which will occur from January 2018 through April 2019. Phase V would be the site closure and restoration or continuation phase which may possibly close up the borehole or use it for further scientific research.

Several residents stood up and asked questions about the projects. Some were in full support of the project while others were skeptics.

Concerned resident Walt Coffman said although he believed the project’s intentions was truly for research purposes, he still had some doubt about DOE’s motives.

“I’m one of those who are skeptical about this project. I think the facts on this project are pretty well established. We don’t know for sure what DOE has in mind for Otero County,” Coffman said. “We don’t know for sure what this project entails. I can tell you what drives this project, and that is a huge problem with nuclear waste that’s building up in power plants and nuclear waste from bomb making that is in the various labs in this country.”

Coffman brought up the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository which is a deep geological repository storage facility for nuclear fuel and other high level radioactive waste in the United States located on federal land near the Nevada Test Site in Nye County, Nevada.

He said the project ended under the Obama Administration due to many difficulties that was not accepted by many people.

He said the part that worries him the most is that the DOE will discover the Otero County borehole will be perfect for disposing of nuclear waste and will change their minds.

“I believe the project manager when he tells me that this particular site won’t be filled with radioactive debris. I believe they will plug it or maybe leave it open for scientific research when they’re done, it’s not that part that I’m worried about,” Coffman said. “The DOE is spending $30 million to drill a hole, if it turns out that the hole is perfect for nuclear waste storage well then you can’t ask for more. Why would DOE then go to Nevada or Ohio and drill another test well to test their rock if they have a proven hole here in Otero County?”

Greg Duggar, who owns the property in question, provided his input in support of the project.

“This came about from research in the Sandia National Labs. I’m a businessman and Fillman’s company approached me with this concept and asked me if I would be interested. I made it clear that I don’t want nuclear waste on my land and I’m prepared to sign an agreement with the DOE willing to tie myself into this,” Duggar said. “Go to Carlsbad if you’re arguing about nuclear waste, this is science, this is not about nuclear waste. I’m not here to be controversial, I’m here as the landowner interested in science. My great-uncle worked with J. Robert Oppenheimer. My family came here in 1865. It’s a science project, it’s good for this county, your children and your future.”

Fillman said he thought the meeting went pretty well and it was well balanced and he will continue to educate the community on the research project for the next upcoming months.

“I really appreciate the county commission for giving us an opportunity to discuss this matter,” Fillman said. “They’ve given us this opportunity a couple times and I really appreciate this in the fair handed way they’re handling this.”

County Commissioner Susan Flores said she also appreciates TPMC for being open and always being available for questions.

“Out of all the years I’ve been here and of all the projects that have been presented to us, Mr. Fillman has been at the forefront in our faces and we have been aware of things very clearly,” Flores said. “This has been the most in your face company that I’ve seen in Otero County.”

TPMC Public Outreach Liaison Katie Roberts said they will hold a public meeting in Alamogordo on March 14 at Patron’s Hall, 1106 N. New York Ave., from 4 p.m. – 5 p.m.  More meetings will be scheduled throughout the county soon.

 

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February 11, 2017 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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