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Nuclear waste Bill in U.S. House of Representatives – resistance in New Mexico to nuclear waste dump

Nuclear waste bill advances to House, could push forward storage site in New Mexico Adrian Hedden, Carlsbad Current-Argus Nov. 27, 2019 A federal bill to alter policy for nuclear waste advanced to the full U.S. House of Representatives and could support the case for temporary storage of  temporary storage of high-level waste at a facility like the one Holtec International proposed to build in southeast New Mexico.

The Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act was advanced by a unanimous voice vote to the House by the Energy and Commerce Committee on Nov. 20.

The bill, if passed, would move forward with safety licensing for a permanent nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, while providing the U.S. Department of Energy the authority to proceed with a program for consolidated interim storage (CIS) while the Yucca Mountain project progresses.

It also prioritized the transportation of spent nuclear fuel from generator sites in seismically active areas, and ensured the DOE has the funds to build and operate a repository

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), the only representative from New Mexico who sits on the committee, introduced an amendment that was approved to create a grant program to study the impacts radiation exposure including family members and non-workers resulting from uranium mining.

“Though we have a responsibility to address the waste issues that result from our country entering the atomic age, I am deeply concerned that this bill makes it more likely that a future interim storage site — potentially one in New Mexico — becomes a permanent home for nuclear waste,” he said.

One such interim facility, proposed by Holtec to be built in a remote, desert area near the Eddy-Lea county line, drew concerns from New Mexico environmentalist groups as it could put local communities at risk as well.

Don Hancock, nuclear waste program director at the Southwest Research and Information Center in Albuquerque cited a clause in the bill that required the governor of a state that would host a CIS facility to consent before moving forward.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham voiced her opposition to the Holtec project earlier this year, calling it “economic malpractice” as it could negatively impact two of the state’s biggest industries: oil and gas and agriculture.

“The bill says you must have approval from the state’s governor,” Hancock said. “New Mexico would be a non-starter. She (Lujan Grisham) has said she’s opposed to it.”

Hancock said he also opposed the project and the bill over the suggestion of transporting the waste hundreds or thousands of miles away from generator sites where it is currently stored.

Even if the waste approved to be shipped to a remote location like southeast New Mexico, Hancock argued it would take years for the infrastructure to be built and the waste to be moved.

“This approach doesn’t make any sense,” he said. “Why not do it in places that already have storage sites? It’s going to sit there for years. Let’s make that less dangerous. It can be done without massive transportation around the country.”…….. https://www.currentargus.com/story/news/local/2019/11/27/nuclear-waste-bill-advances-house-may-support-new-mexico-holtec-site/4297822002/

November 28, 2019 - Posted by | politics, USA, wastes

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