More than two years after a company specializing in casks for spent nuclear fuel rods submitted a letter of intent to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to open a storage facility near Carlsbad, questions continue to linger regarding the project’s safety.
The Camden, New Jersey-based Holtec International has said it wants to build a facility on some 500 acres to the east of Carlsbad that would store thousands of tons of spent nuclear fuel.
The facility, as outlined by Holtec officials, would house at the very least 500 casks containing the spent fuel for a period of up to 40 years.
Opponents of the plan, including the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, have raised questions regarding the facility’s size and potential for a nuclear waste accident.
Now, New Mexico State Senator Jeff Steinborn has issued a statement saying he wants to know more about the project, noting “It is critically important that the residents of New Mexico get substantive information needed to make an informed decision about whether to allow this highly controversial project to go forward.”
Steinborn, who chairs the Interim Radioactive and Hazardous Materials Committee, has specifically called on Governor Susana Martinez to release all available details to the public regarding the project.
Noting that the committee is running up against a deadline of July 31 for environmental impact information, Steinborn said that only through an airing of such information could the project proceed.
State officials, in response, have contended that that information is currently being reviewed by the NRC, a process that may take another two years.
By Garry Boulard