WASHINGTON – September 21, 2020] With the window for public comment closing tomorrow, September 22, individuals and groups opposing Holtec’s “Consolidated ‘Interim’ Storage Facility [CISF] for Spent Nuclear Fuel and High Level Waste” have filed thousands of comments and an organizational sign-on letter urging the NRC to reject Holtec’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Docket ID NRC-2018-0052) and deny licensing for the project.
Holtec is seeking federal approval to take highly radioactive irradiated nuclear fuel, also known as “spent” fuel, shipped from nuclear power plants around the country to New Mexico, where it proposes to store it indefinitely in shallowly buried casks. Experts say this will endanger people and environments in New Mexico and west Texas, as well as along the transport routes.
“There has been an exceptionally high turnout for the comment process,” said Kevin Kamps, Radioactive Waste Specialist with the national group Beyond Nuclear, whose comments on the project are posted here. “At present writing, 4,200 people have sent their comments in, with more than 95% of them against the Holtec project. At verbal comment call-in sessions, opponents outnumbered proponents by a count of 134 to 43, and that’s not counting hundreds more who waited on the line for many long hours but never got a chance to speak.”
Beyond Nuclear also helped coordinate an organizational coalition sign-on comment letter, which is posted here. So far there are 80 signatories and counting from organizations in 27 states (plus one Canadian province), including nine national groups: Beyond Nuclear; National Nuclear Workers for Justice (NNWJ); Nuclear Age Peace Foundation; Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS); On Behalf of Planet Earth; Physicians for Social Responsibility; Proposition 1 Committee; Food & Water Watch; and Public Citizen.
The group letter says that the proposed project violates the principle of consent-based siting, because New Mexico does not consent to it. It states: “We join the All Pueblo Council of Governors, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, New Mexico State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard, more than a dozen county and city governments, the Alliance for Environmental Strategies, the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, the Permian Basin Coalition of Land & Royalty Owners and Operators, the Nuclear Issues Study Group, and the more than 30,000 residents who commented during the NRC’s 2018 environmental scoping period in vehemently opposing bringing the nation’s high level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants through our communities to New Mexico.”
The letter points out the Holtec proposal also violates federal law: “Under current U.S. law, this project is illegal. The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, as Amended, does not allow the federal government to take title to the high-level radioactive waste (commercial irradiated nuclear fuel) a permanent geologic repository has opened. So the federal government cannot pay for transportation and storage of the waste as Holtec wants. Legally, the license cannot be issued until a permanent repository is operating.”
The signatories further object to the Holtec project because of its environmental racism, threats to water and wildlife, threats to significant Native American cultural sites, the dangers of transporting irradiated “spent” fuel, and the cumulative public health and safety impacts the nuclear industry has already inflicted on New Mexicans for the past 75 years.
The letter remains open for more organizations to sign on, and will be filed with the NRC before midnight Eastern time on Tuesday, September 22. To sign, contact Kevin Kamps at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Individuals can submit comments on the Holtec project until 11:59pm Eastern time on Tuesday, September 22. Opponents to the Holtec CISF, and proponents of Environmental Justice, are submit comments to NRC by the deadline.
“Comment NOW ,” said Diane D’Arrigo of Nuclear Information and Resource Service, “because this may be your last chance. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission ignored the request of dozens of groups and refused to wait until after the COVID-19 crisis to hear public input.”
“We urge all Americans on or near the transport routes — more than 200 million, all told — to comment and tell NRC that ‘We Do NOT Consent!’ to this,” said Kevin Kamps. “These high-risk, mobile-Chernobyl, floating-Fukushima, dirty-bomb-on-wheels, mobile-X-ray-machine-that-can’t-be-turned-off shipments of high-level radioactive waste would travel by truck, train, and barge through most states in the Lower 48. In this sense, we all live in New Mexico,” said Beyond Nuclear’s Kevin Kamps.
Here are three simple links individuals can use to file comments on the Holtec project with the NRC: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1CleNVaLGWM42EU1xgDB_kZ0rUr7s8904/view
Comments can also be filed directly to the NRC by emailing them to <email@example.com>. For any questions about that process, contact Stacey Imboden, Stacey.Imboden@nrc.gov. For questions about the Holtec Draft Environmental Impact Statement, contact Jill Caverly, firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about CISFs, see Beyond Nuclear’s Centralized Storage website section, posted here.