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Regulator issues permit for New Mexico nuclear waste facility against wishes of  local, state, and federal leaders

By Simon Druker

May 9 (UPI) — The agency that governs nuclear power in the United States issued a permit Tuesday to build a facility to store nuclear waste in New Mexico.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission permit goes against the wishes of both state and federal elected officials.

“I have been strongly opposed to the interim storage of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste in New Mexico, which would pose serious risks to our communities. But today’s announcement paves the way for New Mexico to be home for indefinite storage of spent nuclear fuel,” Sen. Ben Ray Lujan D-N.M., told The Hill in a statement.

“This approach — over the objections of many local, state, and federal leaders — is unacceptable,” he said.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., in March signed legislation prohibiting the facility from being built by Florida-based Holtec International.

It’s not clear what effect her law would have on the NRC’s federal permit.

Lujan Grisham called on President Joe Biden to intervene.

The NRC permit grants Holtec the right to build the consolidated interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel in the state’s Lea County. The company can store 500 canisters, or approximately 8,680 metric tons, of spent nuclear fuel for 40 years.

Holtec said it plans to eventually apply for amended licenses in order to eventually store up to 10,000 canisters or approximately 173,600 metric tons over an additional 19 phases.

The company was founded in 1986 in New Jersey and specializes in manufacturing parts for nuclear reactors. It also offers existing nuclear waste storage services.

Despite having the permit, Holtec is not fully committed to moving ahead with the project.

“We’re still working with our partners and the key stakeholders to understand what our paths are … what our potential options are. Then we’re going to head forward from that,” the company’s director of government affairs and communications Patrick O’Brien told the Albuquerque Journal in an interview Tuesday.


May 12, 2023 - Posted by | USA, wastes

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