New Mexico votes for veto power in the debate about spent nuclear fuel
Lawmakers have approved a measure that would prohibit the storage of spent nuclear fuels in New Mexico unless the state gives its consent.
ALBUQUERQUE (NM) -- Friday's signing by the governor of New Mexico was a sign of support for preventing spent nuclear fuel from being shipped to the state. This came just hours after the measure cleared its final legislative hurdle.
Democratic governor. After a long debate, the New Mexico House voted to approve bill 35-28. Michelle Lujan Grisham quickly added her signature. Five Democrats joined Republicans to oppose the bill, arguing that it would challenge long-standing federal authority on nuclear safety matters and could lead to new court challenges.
The bill by Democratic state Senator Jeff Steinborn of Las Cruces will have an impact on a multibillion-dollar facility in southern New Mexico that would be able to store up to 8,680 metric tonnes of used uranium fuel. Over the next six decades, there could be as many as 10,000 canisters for used fuel.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission could soon announce a decision on whether to grant a license to the project led by Holtec International. This company has spent an estimated $ 80 million on the approval process over the past eight years.
Lujan Grisham, members of New Mexico's congressional delegation and Lujan Grisham have strongly opposed the construction of the facility at the state's Texas border. Both states sued the federal government, but top Texas officials failed to stop the licensing of a similar facility in Andrews County.
Even if a license is granted to the New Mexico complex, permits from the state Environment Department would still be required. Critics say that the state could rely on the legislation to stop the project.
Albuquerque Democrat Gail Chasey argued that states with nuclear power plants have not been given incentives to find permanent solutions to the problem of spent fuel. She said that as long as New Mexico is considered an option, these states won't have to worry about the long-term effects.
"The problem is that this is a never-ending decision. Chasey stated that we don't have the right to say, "Oh, let's not do it anymore and take it away. Think about the fact that if it was a profitable and good product, then the states that made it would have it at their facilities.
According to the U. S. Department of Energy nuclear reactors in the country produce more than 2,000 metric tons of radioactive material per year. Most of this waste is left on-site as there is no other place to put it.
The federal government has not built a permanent repository for the fuel, so it reimburses utilities to store the fuel. Independent government auditors found that the cost of this fuel could run into the billions over the next decade.
Jennifer Granholm, U. S. Energy Secretary, has spoken out about revisiting recommendations made by a blue-ribbon panel on America's nuclear future a decade ago. Her agency issued a request for input in November on a consent-based siting process to identify commercially stored nuclear fuel.
Some legislators from southeastern New Mexico stated that residents and elected officials would welcome the Holtec project. They also said that they had visited some of the storage sites near power plants to see that the casks were safe.
They also emphasized the safety of transporting the material via rail to New Mexico. They stated that armed guards would be onboard the trains and that radiation would not be released by the casks in the event of a train derailing.
Republican Rep. Cathrynn Brown said that the proposed Holtec site is already home to the federal government’s only underground repository of Cold War-era waste from nuclear research and bomb-making. It also houses a uranium enrichment facility.
Despite this, some lawmakers are still concerned about the project because it will be located in the Permian basin, one of the most productive oilfields in the world. New Mexico receives a significant amount of its revenue through drilling.guest