Watchdog files appeal over planned nuclear storage complex via KOB4

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — A proposed multibillion-dollar complex in southern New Mexico that would store spent nuclear fuel from commercial power plants around the U.S. is facing another legal challenge as opponents have filed an appeal in federal court.

They are taking aim at the federal government’s decision earlier this year to dismiss numerous contentions that watchdogs had raised about the project.

Beyond Nuclear’s appeal, filed in early June, reiterated concerns that the facility planned by Holtec International would end up becoming a permanent dumping ground for spent nuclear fuel since there’s no deep geological repository available to hold the waste permanently, the Carlsbad Current-Argus reported.


New Jersey-based Holtec is seeking a 40-year license to build what it has described as a state-of-the-art complex near Carlsbad. The first phase calls for storing up to 8,680 metric tons of uranium, which would be packed into 500 canisters. Future expansion could make room for as many as 10,000 canisters of spent fuel.

Holtec has said the U.S. currently has more than 80,000 metric tons of used nuclear fuel in storage at dozens of sites around the country and the inventory is growing at a rate of about 2,000 metric tons a year.


The NRC reasoned in its April decision dismissing the contentions that Holtec expects the operators of the nuclear plants where the waste is generated to take title to it, unless the Energy Department is allowed to through a change in law enacted by Congress.

The NRC also argued that merely issuing a license to Holtec would not violate federal law ahead the potential transfer of ownership of the waste.


Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and other elected officials in New Mexico have concerns about the project, pointing to the lack of a permanent plan by the federal government for dealing with the waste. The governor and others also have questions about whether the facility would compromise oil and gas development in the Permian Basin.

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