Holtec has said the facility would be temporary until a permanent repository could be built, but Rep. Janelle Anyanonu, D-Albuquerque, fears that wouldn’t be the case.
“Once it opens, it’s going to be permanent,” Anyanou said.
Several lawmakers brought up the recent toxic train wreck near East Palestine, Ohio, as evidence hazardous waste could contaminate communities if a similar incident happened in New Mexico. Holtec has said it will transport all the waste by train.
A bill that would stymie, if not stop, efforts to build a radioactive waste disposal storage site in the southeastern part of the state is getting closer to the legislative finish line.
The House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee voted 6-3 on Saturday to approve Senate Bill 53, which would prohibit the storage and disposal of radioactive materials or waste in New Mexico unless the state has agreed to the creation of the disposal facility and unless the federal government has already created a permanent nuclear waste repository.
The Senate has passed the bill, which now goes to the House Judiciary Committee. If it clears that committee, it will go the floor of the House of Representatives for a final vote.
The effort, sponsored by four Democratic lawmakers, is aimed at slowing the efforts of Holtec International from building a proposed storage site between Hobbs and Carlsbad that would hold highly radioactive uranium from reactor sites around the country.
“I don’t want to see New Mexico become the nation’s dumping ground [for radioactive waste],” Rep. Matthew McQueen, D-Galisteo, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, told committee members.