Nuclear Pollution

Nuclear waste storage in New Mexico would be blocked if bills pass

High-level spent nuclear fuel would be prohibited from being stored in New Mexico if lawmakers pass a pair of bills introduced during this year’s session.

The bicameral effort comes as Holtec International proposed to build and operate a facility in southeast New Mexico to temporarily hold spent nuclear fuel rods from generator sites across the US

Sponsored by New Mexico Sen. Jeff Steinborn (D-36), a frequent critic of the Holtec project, Senate Bill 54 would prohibit the kind of waste Holtec planned to store in New Mexico. It’s twin bill, House Bill 127, was sponsored by Rep. Matthew McQueen (D-50).

More:Nuclear waste facility near Carlsbad delayed again by federal regulator’s inquiry

The state does have a facility for low-level waste. The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is operated by the US Department of Energy in the same region and permitted by the State of New Mexico

The Holtec site recently received approval from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which recommended Holtec be issued a license to build the facility and a final decision was expected this year.

A rendering of what Holtec International's interim nuclear waste repository would look like if completed.

Holtec would hold up to 100,000 metric tons of the waste in total on an interim basis until a permanent repository was available.

More:Waste Isolation Pilot Plant struggles to control costs, per annual performance evaluation

The US does not presently have a permanent repository for the waste after such a project at Yucca Mountain, Nevada stalled amid opposition from leaders in that state.

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