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Thursday
Jul052018

NRC rejects 52-group environmental coalition's call for Holtec CISF comment deadline extension and more public meetings

By letter dated June 26, 2018, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff rejected the call from an environmental coalition of 52 groups for 18 more environmental scoping public comment meetings, and an extension of the current July 30, 2018 deadline for public comment out to October 30, 2018, regarding the Holtec International/Eddy-Lea [Counties] Energy Alliance scheme to construct and operate a centralized interim storage facility for up to 173,600 metric tons of irradiated nuclear fuel in southeastern New Mexico.

The NRC apparently snail mailed the letter out to each of the 52 groups, as well as to Toledo, Ohio attorney Terry Lodge who serves as legal counsel for the coalition effort. The letter was not emailed. Thus, even though it was dated June 26, the first notice to the coalition was when one of its grassroots researchers found the letter, posted to NRC's Agency-wide Document Access and Management Systems (ADAMS) on July 5, 2018 -- nine days after it was written.

And the deadline clock keeps ticking toward July 30th, NRC's deadline for public comments on environmental scoping for this most dangerous scheme.

This means we must redouble efforts to urge members of congress to demand additional public meetings, and an extension of the comment deadline. Such action by the two U.S. Senators from New Mexico (Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, both Democrats) earlier this year successfully secured two additional meetings in northern New Mexico, which otherwise would not have happened.

As the coalition's request made clear more than two months ago now, given the transport risks alone of the proposed CISF, public meetings should be held nationwide. Thus far, meetings have only been held in New Mexico, and a single meeting at the NRC's HQ in Rockville, MD (the agency, per usual, barely circulated notice of the meeting in the local area, so a single member of the public was all that turned out in person; however, 70 concerned citizens and environmental group representatives from across the country turned out by phone, despite the short notice).

Here is a draft letter (in both PDF and .docx formats) that you could give to your own U.S. Representative, and to both of your own U.S. Senators, for their use in requesting a public meeting in your congressional district or state, and for requesting an extension to the current July 30, 2018 deadline. Please urge your members of congress to take action ASAP.

You can phone your members' of congress offices via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

Or you can look up the specific contact info. for both your U.S. Senators here, and your U.S. Representative here.