Centralized Storage

With the scientifically unsound proposed Yucca Mountain radioactive waste dump now canceled, the danger of "interim" storage threatens. This means that radioactive waste could be "temporarily" parked in open air lots, vulnerable to accident and attack, while a new repository site is sought.



Allies Move to Block World's Largest High-Level Radioactive Dump and Transport Scheme

Press Release 

January 29, 2019 


Diane D'Arrigo,  301-270 6477 x3, Nuclear Information and Resource Service

Leona Morgan, 505-879-8547

Allies Move to Block High-Level Radioactive Waste Targeted for New Mexico:

HOLTEC Proposes World’s Largest Nuclear Dump

and Nationwide Shipment of N-Waste

[Albuquerque, NM]  Ten organizations* and two industry groups** blasted Holtec International's application*** to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a license to build and operate the world's largest nuclear waste dump in New Mexico. The waste, from commercial nuclear power is currently at the reactor sites where it was produced. Opening a high-level waste dump, if licensed, would lead to tens of thousands of ongoing high level radioactive waste shipments on rail, truck and boat for decades. Deadly containers would pass through nearly 90% of U.S. Congressional districts including neighborhoods, cities, farmlands, lakes, rivers and ocean-fronts. The waste is the hottest, most concentrated atomic waste from the nuclear fuel chain, misleadingly dubbed "spent" fuel.  This radioactive waste can cause death in minutes if unshielded, and remains radioactive for literally millions of years; it is one of the most deadly materials on Earth.

The organizations are demanding that the NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board halt the Holtec licensing because it is illegal. The federal Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, as Amended, only allows the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to take ownership of irradiated nuclear fuel at an operating permanent geologic repository. Such a title and liability transfer to DOE at the "interim" site proposed by Holtec, is not allowed. The wise precaution was included in the law to safeguard against an "interim" surface site becoming de facto permanent in the absence of a permanent repository. The Holtec site  would not be suitable for long-term isolation and, in the view of those challenging Holtec, it is also not suitable for short-term storage.

The Holtec license application says the lethal waste at the site would be owned by either the Department of Energy (DOE) or the nuclear utility companies that made it. But at the hearing, Holtec's lawyer, Jay Silberg, admitted that under current law DOE cannot take title and ownership of the waste at an "interim" centralized storage site. This makes the proposal unrealistic.

Diane Curran, attorney for Beyond Nuclear, said "We should not even have to argue this hypothetical case. We call on the licensing board to dismiss the application."

Attorney Terry Lodge, representing seven organizations from California to New York and Michigan to New Mexico charged that, "The Holtec proposal is a corporate welfare trough that will make the nuclear waste problem in this country worse, putting millions of people along transport routes at unnecessary risk."

Sierra Club lawyer Wallace Taylor, argued against the segmented licensing stating that, "It is irresponsible and illegal to grant a license for 20, 40 or 60 years and ignore that the waste will be dangerous for centuries longer with no plans to continue managing and isolating it."

Holtec admitted they do not have a way to repair cracked storage and transport canisters but stated that since they are not expecting cracked canisters they don't have to prepare to deal with them.

Major questions were raised about how waste would get to New Mexico (which has no commercial nuclear power reactors); how long it would stay (forever?); who would pay; and who would be liable for the statistically-inevitable accidents and radioactive releases, both in transit and at the site.

Alliance For Environmental Strategies (AFES), based in southeastern New Mexico, is charging that the siting violates principles of environmental justice and that Holtec's Environmental Report is totally inadequate in this regard.

Given admissions by Holtec, it seems that nuclear power companies would have to keep title, pay to transport the waste and remain economically and legally liable, which they will not be willing to do. This makes funding for the Holtec dump operation and eventual closure highly questionable.

Diane D’Arrigo, Radioactive Waste Project Director at Nuclear Information and Resource Service, said “New Mexico could end up holding the bag, threatening the thriving industries already in the region including dairy, pecan farming and ranching. Mixing high-level radioactive waste with the booming Permian Basin oil and gas industry is a recipe for disaster. Everyone along the transport routes would be at personal and economic risk because all insurance policies expressly state they will not cover radioactive accidents or incidents. Check your own auto, renters and homeowners policies,” she advised.

Approximately 40 objections were filed, including environmental racism/injustice; danger of contaminating water; inadequate radioactive waste containers and storage systems; no ability to inspect, monitor or repackage damaged fuel and containers; condition of the waste after extended storage; eventual decommissioning costs and funding; next destination of the waste when the temporary storage license expires and unnecessary transport dangers.

Curran stated that "Holtec's environmentally reckless, poorly conceived dump proposal is an environmental, economic fiasco for the State of New Mexico and for communities all across the country from nuclear power reactors to the Holtec site."

The 3 judge panel will decide in about 45 days, mid-March to early April, 2019, who will have standing and which objections will be considered.


*Organizations: Public Citizen, Sierra Club, Beyond Nuclear, Alliance for Environmental Strategies (NM), Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination (MI), Citizens Environmental Coalition (NY), Don’t Waste Michigan (MI), Mothers for Peace (CA), Nuclear Energy Information Service (IL), Nuclear Issues Study Group (NM)

**Industries: Faskin Oil, NAC International

*** Holtec International’s HI–STORE Consolidated Interim Storage Facility (CISF) Project, NRC Docket No. 72-1051; Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 95 / Wednesday, May 16, 2018


Hearing transcripts from NRC ASLB proceedings on Holtec CISF, ABQ, NM, Jan. 23-24, 2019

Hearing Transcript from U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) proceeding re: Holtec HI-STORE/Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance Consolidated Interim Storage Facility (CISF), in Albuquerque, NM on January 23, 2019.

Hearing Transcript from NRC ASLB proceeding re: Holtec HI-STORE/ELEA CISF, in ABQ, NM on January 24, 2019.

[Nick Maxwell from Save Lea County and AFES (Alliance for Environmental Strategies) also video recorded the entire two-day hearing:

saveleacounty transmission 2019-01-26

Greetings from the Land of Enchantment!

The website at now includes videos of the NRC hearings. Because of bandwidth concerns, there is not a direct download link for the videos. Please utilize a third party service (Google: “Youtube convert mp4”) to download the videos to your device.

Please share access to the videos, either via email or social media. You rock!

Nick Maxwell


Lea County, NM]


Summary of Holtec/ELEA CISF licensing application proceeding

Summary of Holtec International/Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance centralized interim storage facility (CISF) for irradiated nuclear fuel and Greater-Than-Class-C (GTCC) "low-level" radioactive waste licensing application proceeding, with links to more detailed information, arranged in chronological order:

Holtec International -- HI-STORE CISF [license application documents, including the Environmental Report (ER) and Safety Analysis Report (SAR), from March 31, 2017 to January 4, 2018, as posted on U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission website].

Beyond Nuclear's environmental scoping comments, submitted to NRC, opposed to the Holtec/ELEA CISF [July 30, 2018].

Broad national grassroots environmental coalition environmental scoping comments, submitted to NRC, opposed to Holtec/ELEA CISF [July 30, 2018] -- 30,000+ comments submitted opposed to CISF.

Environmental legal interventions opposing Holtec/ELEA CISF [Sept. 14, 2018 -- interventions by: Alliance for Environmental Strategies (AFES, legal counsel Nancy Simmons); Beyond Nuclear (legal counsel Diane Curran, Mindy Goldstein, and Caroline Reiser); Don't Waste Michigan et al.*; and Sierra Club (legal counsel Wally Taylor].

*This environmental coalition includes: Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, MI; Citizens’ Environmental Coalition, NY; Don’t Waste Michigan; Nuclear Energy Information Service, IL; Nuclear Issues Study Group, NM; Public Citizen (DC, TX); San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, (CA), with Terry Lodge of Toledo, Ohio serving as legal counsel. Dr. James David Ballard serves as expert witness. See his Sept. 2018 report, "Holtec HI-STORM UMAX Interim Storage Facility (a.k.a. CISF): Human-Initiated Events (HIE), Transportation of the Inventory, and Storage of Highly Radioactive Waste Materials."

Beyond Nuclear's motion to dismiss [Sept. 14, 2018; Errata filed Sept. 18, 2018].

Public Citizen press release [Sept. 14, 2018].

Don't Waste MI et al. press release [Sept. 17, 2018].

Holtec and NRC staff answers/responses, opposing Beyond Nuclear's motion to dismiss [Sept. 24, 2018].

Beyond Nuclear motion for leave to reply, and reply to NRC staff's and Holtec's responses to Beyond Nuclear's motion to dismiss [Sept. 28, 2018].

NRC staff and Holtec responses/answers opposing AFES, Beyond Nuclear, Don't Waste MI et al., and Sierra Club legal interventions [Oct. 9, 2018].

Replies by AFES, Beyond Nuclear, Don't Waste MI et al., and Sierra Club, to NRC staff and Holtec responses/answers opposing legal interventions [Oct. 16, 2018].

NRC Commissioners' ORDER, rejecting Beyond Nuclear's motion to dismiss [Oct. 29, 2018].

NRC establishment of Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) [Oct. 31, 2018].

ASLB sets oral argument pre-hearings for Jan. 23-24 in Albuquerque, New Mexico [Nov. 28, 2018].

ASLB announces start time and specific location for Jan. 23-24 Albuquerque, NM oral argument pre-hearings [Dec. 14, 2018]: "The Board will hear oral argument concerning standing and the sufficiency of the hearing requests on Wednesday, January 23 and, as necessary, Thursday, January 24, 2019 in...Albuquerque, New Mexico..."

[A Jan. 10, 2019 revised Order from the ASLB announced a new venue in Albuquerque -- the previous venue inaccessible due to the partial shutdown of the federal government. The new venue is:

The Board will hear oral argument concerning standing and the sufficiency of the hearing requests on Wednesday, January 23 and, as necessary, Thursday, January 24, 2019 at the State Bar of New Mexico, 5121 Masthead Street NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico. The argument will commence at 9:00 a.m. Mountain Standard Time (MST).]


Beyond Nuclear files motion Petition for Review and Motion to Hold in Abeyance with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [Dec. 27, 2018].

Joint motion by Sierra Club, and Don't Waste MI et al., to the ASLB, for the establishment of hearing procedures [Jan. 3, 2018].


Links to media coverage of oppositon to Holtec/ELEA CISF in Albuquerque, NM

Updated - Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Updated - Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Sputnik International "Loud & Clear" - Beyond Nuclear segment is here:

Albuquerque Journal - Transport key concern for many opposing Holtec facility - By Maddy Hayden, Journal Staff Writer

Santa Fe New Mexican - U.S. Panel Hears Arguments in Nuclear Waste Storage Case -

Judges Consider Challenges To New Nuclear Waste Site In N.M. -

Hearing: Critics blast Holtec proposal to store nuclear waste near Carlsbad - Adrian C Hedden


Thursday, January 24, 2019

Albuquerque Jurnal - Hltec defends plan fr nuclear waste strage facility - Maddy Hayden


Saturday, January 26, 2019

saveleacounty transmission 2019-01-26

Greetings from the Land of Enchantment!

The website at now includes videos of the NRC hearings. Because of bandwidth concerns, there is not a direct download link for the videos. Please utilize a third party service (Google: “Youtube convert mp4”) to download the videos to your device.

Please share access to the videos, either via email or social media. You rock!

Nick Maxwell


Lea County, NM


Wed., Feb. 13, 2018

The -- "Legality of Holtec's Interim Spent Fuel Repository Application Called into Question"


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE-Coalition Challenges World’s Most Radioactive Waste Site Targeted at New Mexico

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                       Media Contact: Leona Morgan 505-879-8547          

January 22, 2019


Coalition Challenges World’s Most Radioactive Waste Site Targeted at New Mexico

Federal Hearings on Holtec License Application Begin Jan. 23 in Albuquerque

 High-Risk Shipments Would Pass Through Most States for Decades

Albuquerque, N.M.– The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is holding hearings beginning tomorrow on a proposed high level nuclear waste storage site in southeastern New Mexico. Opponents held a press conference today to outline the reasons they are fighting this application They point out that this proposal to store the nation’s deadliest and most dangerous radioactive waste between Hobbs and Carlsbad is an environmental injustice, could lead to contamination of soil and water, could disrupt the local economy, and will create grave transportation risks across the country and at the proposed site. It is highly likely this waste will be abandoned and New Mexicans will have to pay to try to take care of it for hundreds of thousands of years. Over a dozen cities and counties have passed resolutions opposing importation of this waste and more than 27,000 people submitted comments to the NRC opposing this site. The hearings will determine which parties get standing and what issues will get discussed.

Legal counsel for environmental and environmental justice (EJ) groups are squaring off against the license application for the world's largest radioactive waste dump, targeted for New Mexico. More than 40 legal objections have been filed against the Holtec/Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance (ELEA) Consolidated Interim Storage Facility (CISF) license application by the groups which are official parties in the NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) proceeding. The groups include (with representing attorneys): Alliance for Environmental Strategies (Nancy Simmons, Albuquerque, NM), Beyond Nuclear (Diane Curran, Washington, D.C.; Mindy Goldstein, Turner Environmental Law Clinic, Emory University, Atlanta, GA); Sierra Club (Wally Taylor, Sierra Club Nuclear-Free Campaign, Cedar Rapids, IA); and a seven-group coalition including Don’t Waste Michigan, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination (MI), Public Citizen (TX and DC), San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (CA), Nuclear Energy Information Service (IL), Citizens’ Environmental Coalition (NY), and Nuclear Issues Study Group (NM) (Terry Lodge, Toledo, OH). Two industry groups are also intervening in the license application.

The environmental, public-interest groups and their lawyers are challenging the fatal flaws of the Holtec nuclear dump proposal. They are charging that the entire licensing process is against current law, violates Environmental Justice principles, and threatens the environment, people and communities along the routes to and from the site and at the site.

On January 23 and possibly 24th, the NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) will hold oral arguments in Albuquerque regarding the Holtec/ELEA license application to construct and operate a CISF for 173,600 metric tons of commercial irradiated nuclear fuel and other highly radioactive waste, targeted at southeastern New Mexico. That quantity is 2.5 times the amount targeted for a permanent repository, which does not exist. This would also mean 10,000+ high-risk, high-level radioactive waste truck, train, and/or barge shipments -- over the course of not years, but decades -- on roads, rails, and/or waterways in most states, many major cities, and the vast majority (approximately 87%) of U.S. congressional districts.

The environmental coalition first filed their petitions to intervene, and requests for hearing, in opposition to the Holtec/ELEA CISF proposal, on September 14, 2018. Forty technical and legal contentions of opposition, many backed up by expert witness testimony, range from environmental justice violations, to lack of legal authorization for such a CISF, and a broad range of concerns regarding public health, safety, security, and the environment. (For the complete list of legal contentions, please see the OVERVIEW below).

Rose Gardner, co-founder of Alliance For Environmental Strategies (AFES), a grassroots group of local residents, wants to protect New Mexico. She stated that "New Mexico is a wonderful, beautiful state with its mountains, rivers, deserts and open grassy plains. We must not let a company like Holtec come in bringing dangerous, toxic and long-lasting radioactive waste from over 100 nuclear power reactors around the country to our state. We did not benefit from the generation of the nuclear electricity. Why must we accept this dangerous nuclear power waste? I do not consent!"

Noel Marquez, also with AFES stated that, “The industry and government are hiding the dangers and how long the dangers will last--which is truly many generations--a million years according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. They tout false promises of jobs and economic progress that have never come to fruition at nuclear waste sites."

Nancy Simmons, attorney for the Alliance for Environmental Strategies, AFES, described the objections they filed against the license application, chief among them being that, "Holtec did nothing to investigate the impact of additional and cumulative nuclear waste dumping on the local minority and low-income community in southeastern New Mexico. Instead, Holtec exclusively targeted an isolated rural area of New Mexico as a dumping ground, in violation of federal anti-discrimination regulations and guidelines. We're asking Holtec to do its job, to do the homework they're required to do.”

"Holtec would store two and a half times more high-level radioactive waste than is targeted for burial at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. That would mean tens of thousands of high-risk shipments of irradiated nuclear fuel, by road, rail, and waterway, over decades, passing through most states, many major cities, and the vast majority of U.S. congressional districts. When it comes to high-level radioactive waste transportation, we all live in New Mexico. Holtec is a national threat," said Kevin Kamps, radioactive waste specialist at Beyond Nuclear, a watchdog organization on the nuclear power industry based in Takoma Park, Maryland.

Diane Curran, lawyer for Beyond Nuclear stated, “By planning on the U.S. Department of Energy to take ownership of spent, irradiated fuel stored at its proposed facility, Holtec is attempting an end-run around the federal Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA). The NWPA is the public’s best protection against a de facto permanent radioactive waste dump. Therefore, Beyond Nuclear is seeking dismissal of the entire proceeding.”

Wally Taylor, attorney from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, representing the Sierra Club explains, "Nuclear waste is a problem with no good solution. We need to find the least bad solution. First, we need to stop making more radioactive waste by closing down nuclear power plants and transitioning to renewable energy. New Mexico, especially, has abundant wind and sun that could make the state a leader in renewable energy. There is too much risk in transporting over 173,000 tons of radioactive waste across the country to a site that is not properly designed for long-term storage–perhaps permanent storage. We need to find better alternatives."

Terry Lodge, attorney for organizations and individuals from California to New York, Illinois and Michigan to New Mexico stated, "In the midst of the longest federal government shutdown in history, Holtec and the federal NRC deny that the required flawless oversight needed for this dangerous material will ever fail or fall victim to future shutdowns–when government commitments are not fulfilled. In this light, if this license is granted and high level nuclear waste comes in, we predict it could become the largest permanent nuclear waste sacrifice zone on the planet."


Additional Interviews & Photos Upon Request:

Diane Curran

Harmon, Curran, Spielberg + Eisenberg, LLP


Rose Gardner

Alliance for Environmental Strategies


Mindy Goldstein

Turner Environmental Law Clinic, Emory University School of Law


Kevin Kamps

Radioactive Waste Specialist

Beyond Nuclear

7304 Carroll Avenue, #182

Takoma Park, Maryland 20912
(240) 462-3216

Terry Lodge

Attorney for 6 grassroots groups from New Mexico to California to Illinois, Michigan and New York, along with Public Citizen
(419) 205-7084

Noel Marquez

Alliance for Environmental Strategies

Nancy Simmons, Law Office of Nancy L. Simmons

120 Girard SE

Albuquerque, NM 87106

(505) 232-2575

f(505) 232-2574

Wally Taylor

Sierra Club

(319) 350-5807