April 27, 2015

Yes in our backyard too, officials say

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Shipment of waste from Los Alamos National Labs to WIPP. Photo Credit: Los Alamos National Laboratory cc

Local officials in southeastern New Mexico as well as the Susana Martinez administration are pushing for more nuclear waste to be sent to southeastern New Mexico.

Shipment of waste from Los Alamos National Labs to WIPP.  Photo Credit: Los Alamos National Laboratory cc

Shipment of waste from Los Alamos National Labs to WIPP.
Photo Credit: Los Alamos National Laboratory cc

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported on a letter from Gov. Susana Martinez to Department of Energy secretary Earnest Moniz. The letter asked the Barack Obama administration to consider southeastern New Mexico as a location to hold spent fuel rods from nuclear power plants.

The New Mexican also has a copy of the letter available online.

From the New Mexican:

“Time and time again, the citizens of southeastern New Mexico have impressed me with their hard work ethic and willingness to tackle national problems that many others consider to be unsolvable,” Martinez wrote. “In one of the most remote areas of the state, they have had the ingenuity and fortitude to carve out a niche in the nuclear industry to broaden their economic base. They understand the benefits not only to their local economy, but also to our country.”

The Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance, a consortium of city and county governments, has advocated for such a site for years. Carlsbad alone has spent more than a quarter-million dollars lobbying for the project.

More from the letter:

Therefore, I support the ELEA and its member cities and counties in their effort to establish a consolidated interim storage facility in southeastern New Mexico that will be regulated by the high safety and technical standards of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The chairman of the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance is John Heaton, a former state representative.

He told the paper that it would be an economic boon to the area and that the area knew what the risks are.

The area proposed as a site for the nuclear waste storage is east of Carlsbad and near the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. WIPP has not been accepting new waste for over a year since a leak was detected. Investigations have found that Los Alamos National Labs was at fault.

For years, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., blocked proposals to house nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, near the California-Nevada border. Reid announced earlier this year that he would not seek reelection in 2016.

Moniz had previously expressed support for alternatives to Yucca Mountain and even said that he believed other areas would come forward.

In addition to the southeastern New Mexico site, an area across the border in Texas also is pushing to be a site to hold the country’s nuclear waste.

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