NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – There’s a new lawsuit in the fight to stop a nuclear waste facility from opening in Texas just across stateliness from Jal and Eunice. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, an agency which ensures safe use of radioactive material, is now the target of a lawsuit after recommending a license for a nuclear waste storage facility on the Texas side of the Permian Basin. The lawsuit, from a handful of national environmental groups, claims the project to store spent nuclear fuel from reactors may be illegal.
“Beyond Nuclear’s major concern is that the nuclear regulatory commission is getting ahead of congress. Congress has very clearly said that the government cannot take title to nuclear waste until there is a permanent repository. Until there’s a place we can put this stuff forever,” said Mindy Goldstein, council for Beyond Nuclear.
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They say the NRC did not consider the dangers of transportation, earthquakes, or long term effects of the storage. There’s been a similar fight here in New Mexico, where New Jersey-based Holtec recently won approval from the NRC to build a temporary nuclear waste facility near Hobbs.
As is the case with Texas, state leaders in New Mexico oppose the idea saying it could hurt the oil industry and put communities at risk. With the Governor saying the state will not become a dumping ground for spent nuclear fuel. However it was local groups like Eddy-Lea County Energy Alliance that invited Holtec to bring a facility to New Mexico. They say the land has perfect conditions for the storage.
“We’re trying to diversify right now oil is king down here but communities like us we need to think forward and diversify our economies so that when these industries such as oil go south we have basically a baseline economy,” said Jack Volpato, Carlsbad Nuclear Task Force Chairman.
A final decision on the New Mexico nuclear waste site could be made early next year. If granted, that license may last more than 40 years.