As has been predicted for 40 years, nuclear waste is now a major national problem. Across the country, as aging reactors begin to shut down, the unsolvable question of what to do with 70,000+ tons of high level radioactive spent fuel remains an environmental and political debate. Promises by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Department of Energy have led nowhere. There is no national repository nor any credible plan to begin creating one.
Instead, the government is proposing dumping high level radioactive garbage on one or two areas of the country that have had no voice in the process, on sites that appear unsuitable, and on communities who don't want it. Both New Mexico and Texas have been targeted to be interim dumps for this waste, with no exit strategy or any plans to ever remove it.
The Sierra Club has long opposed Consolidated (or Centralized) Interim Storage for many reasons. Transportation risks aside (and they are many), any attempt to assemble large amounts of spent fuel in one location without any plan for permanent disposal simply invites – and almost guarantees – that these sites will become defacto permanent dumps, or worse, open the door to those wanting to reprocess spent fuel, one of the dirtiest and most expensive processes on earth.
Both the New Mexico and Texas chapters have passed resolutions opposing the use of their states as "interim" dumps for spent fuel. The Nuclear Free campaign is supporting their efforts to fight all attempts to drag thousands of tons of some of the most dangerous materials in the world across our aging infracture, thru our cities, town and farms, and dump it on communities who don't agree to be sacrifice zones for nuclear waste.
Holtec International has submitted a plan to store this radioactive nuclear-reactor waste, for as long as 120 years, at a site between Hobbs and Carlsbad. Opponents are concerned about the health, safety, transportation, financial, and environmental-justice aspects of storing high-level radioactive waste that would impact thousands of generations to come. More than 10,000 rail cars would haul risky waste, rumbling on rails through or near major cities in New Mexico, in a process that would take 20 years. In the last three years, there have been seven train accidents in New Mexico, including trains derailing and/or wrecks.
Rio Grande Sierra Club volunteers are organizing residents near the proposed site and rail routes across the state; we are hiring legal help and expert witnesses. Public meetings will be held in southeast New Mexico April and May, and we want to help as many New Mexicans attend and oppose this project as possible. Please contribute to help stop this dangerous proposal.
Now is the time for action!
Chapters do not receive money from the national organization to wage these battles; it is up to us to fight them. Please make a donation today. Your contributions go straight to the people fighting this issue. The Nuclear Free Campaign has set up direct fundraising links so your donations go directly to grass-roots activists organizing and fighting against becoming a nuclear waste dump. Legal interventions are being filed and need funding.
Written comments can be submitted to the NRC until May 29, 2018, either online or by regular mail. More information can be found at NoNuclearWaste.org.