“New Mexico is strongly objecting to federal nuclear regulators’ preliminary recommendation that a license be granted to build a multibillion-dollar storage facility for spent nuclear fuel from commercial power plants around the U.S.”
BY: SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN / ASSOCIATED PRESS abqjournal.com
State officials, in a letter submitted Tuesday to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said that the site is geologically unsuitable and that technical analysis has been inadequate. They also say regulators have failed to consider environmental justice concerns and have therefore fallen short of requirements spelled out by federal environmental laws.
The letter also reiterates the state’s concerns that the storage facility would become a permanent dumping ground for the spent fuel, as the federal government has no permanent plan for dealing with the waste that has been piling up at nuclear power plants.
The officials pointed to a legacy of contamination in New Mexico that includes uranium mining and milling and decades of nuclear research and bomb-making at national laboratories, saying minority and low-income populations already have suffered disproportionate health and environmental effects as a result.
Given the concerns, state officials wrote that a draft environmental review of the project “fails to demonstrate that residents of New Mexico, including vulnerable populations, will be adequately protected from exposure to the radioactive and toxic contaminants that could be released to air and water by the proposed action.”
A group of Democratic state lawmakers also raised concerns.
Elected leaders in southeastern New Mexico support the project, saying it would bring jobs and revenue to the region and provide a temporary option for dealing with the spent fuel.