Monday, February 27, 2023

House panel OKs bill opposing nuclear waste storage plan

House panel OKs bill opposing nuclear waste storage plan
By Santa Fe New Mexican
February 25, 2023
By Robert Nott, The Santa Fe New Mexican

A bill that would stymie, if not stop, efforts to build a radioactive waste disposal storage site in the southeastern part of the state is getting closer to the legislative finish line.

The House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee voted 6-3 Saturday to approve Senate Bill 53, which would prohibit the storage and disposal of radioactive materials or waste in New Mexico unless the state has agreed to the creation of the disposal facility and unless the federal government has already created a permanent nuclear waste repository.

The Senate has already passed the bill, which now goes to the House Judiciary Committee. If it clears that committee, it will go to the floor of the House of Representatives for a final vote.

The effort, sponsored by four Democratic lawmakers, is aimed at slowing the efforts of Holtec International from building a proposed storage site between Hobbs and Carlsbad that would hold highly radioactive uranium from reactor sites around the country.

“I don’t want to see New Mexico become the nation’s dumping ground [for radioactive waste],” Rep. Matthew McQueen, D-Galisteo,  one of the bill’s cosponsors, told committee members.

About 25 people testified in support of the bill while about a half-dozen spoke against it, including a lobbyist for Holtec who said the company has already signed memorandums of agreement with community associations and contractors in New Mexico to build a workforce training facility in the state.

It’s unclear at this point what impact the bill, if it becomes law, would have on Holtec’s plans. Last year, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced it plans to grant Holtec a license to build and operate the facility.

McQueen and cosponsor Sen. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, told the committee the permit has not yet been issued and there is time to send a statement New Mexico does not want the facility.

Holtec has said the facility would be temporary until a permanent repository could be built, but Rep. Janelle Anyanonu, D-Albuquerque, fears that wouldn’t be the case.

“Once it opens it’s going to be permanent no matter what the permit process,” Anyanonu said.

Anyanonu joined both Democrats and Republicans on the committee in expressing concerns that efforts to stop Holtec could lead to a lawsuit. McQueen said he expects Holtec to challenge the bill if it becomes law.

The debate once again shed light on the sometimes controversial crossroads between economic development and community safety when it comes to the issue of radioactive waste sites in New Mexico. The state’s long history with nuclear and radioactive energy also played a role in Saturday’s debate, with some opponents of the Holtec project calling up memories of the first atomic bomb detonation near the Trinity Site in 1945. One report says as many as 1,000 New Mexicans living in communities near the blast may have developed cancer from the radioactive fallout.

One man who spoke in favor of SB 53, Paul Pino of Carrizozo, said his mother and brother died of radiogenic cancer as a result of the atomic test. Noting workers have been contaminated at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, he said, “I hope they don’t die like my mom and brother did.”

Conversely, some testified they support the Holtec project because of its potential to create jobs and inject new financial life into Southeastern New Mexico.

Jason Shirley from the Carlsbad Department of Development said the business community “at large are all in strong support of the project and against this bill moving forward. We think it will be a very good thing for the community.”

Several lawmakers brought up the recent toxic train wreck near East Palestine, Ohio, as evidence hazardous waste could contaminate communities if a similar incident happened in New Mexico. Holtec has said it will transport all the waste by train.

David Gallegos, who said he is a locomotive engineer, told the committee members that while Holtec could do everything right to protect people and the environment from any nuclear leak, “we cannot depend on the condition of the railroad.” Earlier this month Newsweek reported more than a dozen train derailments to date in 2023.

“Derailments across the country have stopped things … stopped commerce in this country,” Gallegos said.


Thank You Senator Pete Harckham and Assemblywoman Dana Levenberg!

Thanks to New York State Senator Pete Harckham and Assemblywoman Dana Levenberg, who announced Feb. 24 that they have introduced legislation (S.5181) that will prohibit the discharge of any radiological agent into the waters of the state. The new legislation was galvanized when plans were announced by Holtec to release radioactive waste water from the decommissioned Indian Point nuclear power plant into the Hudson River.

Past owners of the Indian Point Energy Center, which opened in 1962, had been releasing radioactive waste water into the Hudson for decades. Through federal, state and local investments and actions, the Hudson River is much cleaner today than it once was, and the river now provides increased and significant economic strength to the communities that line its shore and the state as a whole. 

“After decades of tremendous efforts to clean up the Hudson River, the idea of anyone dumping radioactive water into this estuary, the economic lifeblood of our region, is simply outrageous,” said Harckham. “No person, corporation or government has the right to recklessly pollute New York State’s waters, and the mere idea that this is being contemplated is troubling. While the decommissioning of a nuclear power plant is a complex issue, there can be no rationale for releasing radioactive waste into the Hudson.”

“Too much is still unknown about the possible impacts of discharging radioactive waste into our waterways,” said Levenberg. “We wouldn’t want people to feel inhibited in their recreation or in moving to our communities because of the stigma of radioactive wastewater. And ultimately, the State of New York should have control over what is released into our waterways.”
The legislation, which was developed in consultation with environmental advocates, including Riverkeeper, includes a stipulation that violations would be met with fines of $25,000 per day, then $50,000 per day for a second violation and $150,000 per day per violation thereafter. 

Holtec Indian Point LLC and Holtec Decommissioning International LLC preside over the Indian Point nuclear facility in Westchester while continuing the decommissioning process. The potential release of radioactive contaminants to our state’s largest river is an urgent matter to the residents of Peekskill and all other communities along the tidal estuary. 

Existing regulations represent the minimum protections the state is required to provide, and state laws must be more protective of the Hudson River and all of New York’s waterways, as existing state regulations do not address the discharge of radiological materials. Harckham and Levenberg added that New York’s abundant clean water sources will serve as a competitive economic edge in the years to come, as the effects of climate change continue to threaten the country and the world.

“Holtec International’s reckless plan to discharge tritiated wastewater from the Indian Point Energy Center’s decommissioning site into the Hudson River in the coming months must not go forward as planned. The state has a clear role to play in protecting the health and economic interests of its citizens and natural resources and this legislation introduced by Senator Pete Harckham and Assemblymember Dana Levenberg does just that,” said Riverkeeper President Tracy Brown. “Riverkeeper strongly supports this legislation to prohibit discharges of radiological agents into the state’s waters. We urge the Senate and Assembly to expedite its passage and, ultimately, are counting on Governor Hochul’s support to turn this bill into law.”

Reply Brief: Three Mile Island-2

Reply (New Contentions).pdf

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

NRC Approves Proposed Disposal Plan at Church Rock Site in New Mexico

Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: 23-010 February 16, 2023
CONTACT: David McIntyre, 301-415-8200

NRC Approves Proposed Disposal Plan at Church Rock Site in New Mexico
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved a plan by United Nuclear Corp. to dispose of mine waste from the Northeast Church Rock mine site in New Mexico at the company’s nearby existing uranium mill tailings site.
In a license amendment issued Feb. 15, the NRC authorized the company’s plan to dispose of approximately 1 million cubic yards of waste from the mine at the tailings site in McKinley County, New Mexico, northeast of Gallup. The proposal is part of a longstanding U.S. Environmental Protection Agency effort to clean up the Northeast Church Rock mine site, which was contaminated during mining operations from 1967 to 1982. The project includes improvements to the existing tailings impoundment and nearby infrastructure.
The NRC’s consideration of the license amendment request included an environmental review and a safety review. A final Environmental Impact Statement, published in January, assessed the potential impacts of excavating the waste and transferring it to the mill site for disposal. The safety review covered the disposal aspect of the plan, as the mill tailings facility is licensed by the NRC. The NRC’s regulatory jurisdiction does not extend to the mine itself. The staff’s final Safety Evaluation Report was issued in December.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Susquehanna Steam Electric Station, Units 1 and 2 - Integrated Inspection Report 05000387/2022004 and 05000388/2022004

Susquehanna Steam Electric Station, Units 1 and 2 - Integrated Inspection Report 05000387/2022004 and 05000388/2022004

ADAMS Accession No. ML23039A126

Friday, February 3, 2023

Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, Units 2 and 3 - Integrated Inspection Report 05000277/2022004 and 05000278/2022004 ADAMS Accession No. ML23033A333

Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, Units 2 and 3 - Integrated Inspection Report 05000277/2022004 and 05000278/2022004
ADAMS Accession No. ML23033A333