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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.

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Wednesday
May092018

Opponents Request Comment Period Extension re: Holtec/ELEA Highly Radioactive Waste Centralized Interim Storage Site in New Mexico

NEWS FROM BEYOND NUCLEAR

For immediate release: May 9, 2018

Contact: 

Terry Lodge, environmental coalition attorney, (419) 205-7084, tjlodge50@yahoo.com

Kevin Kamps, Radioactive Waste Specialist, Beyond Nuclear, (240) 462-3216, kevin@beyondnuclear.org

Opponents Request Comment Period Extension

re: Holtec/ELEA Highly Radioactive Waste

Centralized Interim Storage Site in New Mexico

 Environmental Coalition Cites Need for Additional Meetings in Cities Hard Hit by High-Risk Road, Rail, and/or Barge Shipments of Irradiated Nuclear Fuel

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A coalition of 52 environmental, social justice, and public interest organizations, has requested that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) extend the public comment period on environmental scoping by 180 days, in the proceeding considering Holtec International/ELEA’s (Eddy-Lea Counties Energy Alliance) application to construct and operate a centralized interim storage facility, for 100,000 to 173,600 metric tons of highly radioactive irradiated nuclear fuel, in southeast New Mexico. The coalition’s petition to NRC (posted online at this link) also requests 18 additional public comment meetings across the country, in cities that would serve as transport hubs for the 10,000 or more high-risk shipments of irradiated nuclear fuel, by road, rail, and/or waterway, over the course of decades, from commercial atomic reactors, to the site in southeast NM located halfway between Hobbs and Carlsbad.

Thus far, NRC has held only four meetings: one at its agency headquarters in Rockville, MD, which had the added opportunity to call- or webinar-in; and three in southeast NM (Roswell, Hobbs, and Carlsbad), relatively near the Holtec/ELEA targeted site. Just today, NRC announced two more public comment meetings, apparently in direct response to a demand made by NM’s two Democratic U.S. Senators, Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich: Monday, May 21 from 6 to 9 pm Mountain Time, at Gallup Downtown Conference Center, 204 W. Coal Ave., Gallup, NM 87301; and Tuesday, May 22 from 6 to 9 pm MTN, at Crown Plaza, 1901 University Blvd., Albuquerque, NM 87102.

By comparison, a significantly smaller proposal – the Yucca Mountain, Nevada, permanent geological dump-site, limited to 70,000 metric tons, only 63,000 of which is reserved for commercial irradiated nuclear fuel – had two-dozen public comment meetings, convened by the U.S. Department of Energy, in many of the very same transport hub cities cited in the coalition’s request letter to NRC.

“While the two additional New Mexico meetings are welcome, this is still a woefully inadequate number of public meetings, as compared to what NRC should be holding for a proposal of such national significance,” said Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear. “The high-risk shipments of highly radioactive waste would travel through most states in the Lower 48 en route to New Mexico, and so far NRC has held not a single public meeting in the scores of large cities that would be impacted by many thousands of shipments, over the course of several decades,” Kamps added.

The coalition letter requested as many NRC public meetings as possible in the following locations: Atlanta, GA; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Cleveland, OH; Dallas/Forth Worth and San Antonio, TX; Detroit, MI; Kansas City and St. Louis, MO; Los Angeles, CA; Miami and Tampa, FL; Minneapolis/Saint Paul, MN; Nashville, TN; New York City, NY; Newark, NJ; Omaha, NE; Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, PA; and Tampa, FL.

“One of countless concerns we have with the Holtec/ELEA proposal is that DOZENS of shipments from the Fermi nuclear power plant, bound for New Mexico, would have to pass, by rail, through the heart of metro Detroit,” said Terry Lodge, environmental attorney based in Toledo, legal counsel for Don’t Waste Michigan, which intends to legally intervene in opposition to the Holtec/ELEA application.  

“And that's only the half of it. There would also be 10,000 shipments nationwide of the highly radioactive waste, decades or a century later, supposedly moving the irradiated nuclear fuel on to an as yet unidentified, permanent repository,” Lodge added. “If, as the NRC holds, present on-site storage arrangements are satisfactory, why should we put Americans at such dangerous risk 20,000 times?" Lodge asked.

“Even routine, incident-free shipments would be like mobile X-ray machines that can’t be turned off, emitting hazardous gamma- and neutron-radiation at close range as they pass by, but there is also the potential for Mobile Chernobyls, catastrophic radioactivity releases, as due to container breaches during severe accidents or intentional attacks,” Lodge added.

The road and rail route maps prepared by Dr. Fred Dilger on behalf of the State of Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects, in the context of the Yucca Mountain permanent burial dump proposal, are instructive regarding the Holtec/ELEA, NM centralized interim storage facility (also known as a monitored retrievable storage site, or away from reactor so-called temporary storage facility). The further east, or west for that matter, from NM, the more similar, or identical, would be the routes, by rail or road, between the NV and NM schemes. The Dilger routing analyses show that 44 states, scores of major cities, and 330 of 435 U.S. congressional districts, would “host” road and/or rail routes for highly radioactive irradiated nuclear fuel truck and/or train transport to NV. Dr. Dilger’s three reports, including route maps, shipment numbers, and congressional districts impacted, are posted online at the State of NV Agency for Nuclear Projects website, here.

“In addition to the high risks of truck and train transports of irradiated nuclear fuel, there is the specter of potential barge shipments,” Kamps of Beyond Nuclear said. “As but one example, barges on Lake Michigan, from Michigan and Wisconsin atomic reactors into the ports of Muskegon and Milwaukee, could put at risk the drinking water supply for 40 million people in several U.S. states, two Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American First Nations downstream, if one were to sink by accident, or be sunk by terrorist intent,” Kamps added.

For this reason, two Canadian groups, drawing their drinking water from downstream of such high-risk shipments on the Great Lakes, added their names as signatories to the letter. They are Bruce Peninsula Environment Group in Ontario, and Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility in Quebec. (Examples of national and grassroots U.S. signatory groups are listed below.)

Reactors lacking direct rail access would either ship the 100+ ton Holtec shipping containers by barge (on multiple U.S. surface waterways, in many states), or heavy haul truck, to the nearest rail head, for transfer to train, for shipment to NM.

Despite this, no NRC public meeting has been scheduled anywhere in the Lake Michigan basin, such as Chicago, a city of many millions, the drinking water of which is drawn from Lake Michigan. In addition, the director of the State of Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects, Robert Halstead, has stated that 40% of all shipments bound for Yucca Mountain would pass through the Chicagoland area. So too, then, would shipments bound for Holtec/ELEA, NM.

The coalition letter was signed by national, regional, and local grassroots groups representing 17 states. National groups include Beyond Nuclear, Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth (FOE), Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), Public Citizen, and Sierra Club. Grassroots groups include several from New Mexico, the state targeted by Holtec/ELEA, including: Alliance for Environmental Strategies; Citizens for Alternatives to Radioactive Dumping; Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety; Current-C Energy Systems, Inc., on behalf of Cooperative Catalyst; Los Alamos Study Group; Nuclear Watch New Mexico; and Sisters of Mercy. Significantly, many reactor community groups, fully aware of the risks of on-site storage with which they are burdened, also protested the environmental injustice of this centralized interim storage scheme, by signing on, including: Citizens Awareness Network of the Northeast, with members near the shutdown Connecticut Yankee, Vermont Yankee, and Yankee Rowe (Massachusetts) atomic reactor sites; San Clemente Green, near the San Onofre, CA shutdown nuclear power plant; Nuclear Energy Information Service of Illinois, the state with the most reactors (14) in the U.S., including Zion, the largest nuclear power plant decommissioning in American history, 30 miles north of Chicago; Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination (CACC) and For Love of Water (FLOW), with members living in the shadows of the Big Rock Point decommissioned atomic reactor in Michigan; and San Luis Obispo Mothers and Grandmothers for Peace, near the still operating Diablo Canyon reactors. These reactor community groups, joined by hundreds more groups representing all 50 states, have long called for Hardened On-Site Storage, as close as is safely possible to the point of waste generation, as an interim alternative to such dangerous proposals as the Yucca burial dump, and the Holtec/ELEA de facto permanent, surface storage, “parking lot dump.”

--30—

Beyond Nuclear aims to educate and activate the public about the connections between nuclear power and nuclear weapons and the need to abolish both to safeguard our future. Beyond Nuclear advocates for an energy future that is sustainable, benign and democratic. The Beyond Nuclear team works with diverse partners and allies to provide the public, government officials, and the media with the critical information necessary to move humanity toward a world beyond nuclear. Beyond Nuclear: 6930 Carroll Avenue, Suite 400, Takoma Park, MD 20912. Info@beyondnuclear.org. www.beyondnuclear.org.

Monday
May072018

Video recordings of NRC environmental scoping meetings in s.e. NM, and more

Videos recorded and shared by Nick Maxwell, resident of Hobbs, NM [message from Nick Maxwell follows]:
Videos of the NRC scoping meetings are online! Feel free to share, find them here:
[U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff presentation to the Artesia, NM mayor and city council, re: Holtec/ELEA's so-called centralized interim storage facility for highly radioactive irradiated nuclear fuel. The meeting began at 10am MTN, Mon., April 30, 2018]
ROSWELL https://youtu.be/0pNAaIQxpE8 [Mon., April 30]
HOBBS https://youtu.be/vkl7lo0uhYY [Tues., May 1, 2018]
CARLSBAD https://youtu.be/HuljmGkpAJE [Thurs., May 3, 2018]
[The three s.e. NM environmental scoping public comment meetings conducted by NRC.]
And, of course, here are the videos of the public being kicked out of the so-called "consent"-based project.
WEDNESDAY [May 2, 2018] SITE VISIT https://youtu.be/09LRYGUHFtg
LEA COUNTY CLOSED "SECRET" MEETING https://youtu.be/WlZfU31Blr4
Warm Regards,
Nick
#NoConsent #DissolveELEA
Friday
May042018

PUBLIC EXCLUDED FROM PARTICIPATING IN GOVERNMENT TOUR OF PROPOSED NUCLEAR WASTE DUMP SITE

Project Opponents Cut Off/Pushed To End Of Public Meeting

See the press release issued by the Alliance for Environmental Strategies, Beyond Nuclear, and the Nuclear Issues Study Group, re: irregularities undermining public participation in the Holtec/ELEA centralized interim storage scheme for highly radioactive irradiated nuclear fuel in southeastern New Mexico.

Thursday
May032018

OMA Violation Notice - Eddy Lea Energy Alliance LLC

On May 3, 2018, Nick Maxwell, a resident of Hobbs, NM, served the following notice of an allegation of a violation of the Open Meetings Act (OMA) via email:

Directors of Eddy Lea Energy Alliance LLC:

On May 3, 2018, Mr. John Heaton, President of Eddy Lea Energy Alliance LLC, was served written notice claiming a violation of the Open Meetings Act. The attached notice was served in person by the Honorable Lon Burnam, former representative of the Texas House of Representatives, at the NRC scoping meeting at 1400 Commerce Dr, Carlsbad, NM 88220 at 7:00 PM.
All actions at the meeting shall be invalid, which includes the resolution which authorized the approval of the Land Purchase Option Agreement between Eddy Lea Energy Alliance and Holtec Intl, which was needed by Holtec before applying to the NRC [U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission] for a nuclear HLW [High-Level Radioactive Waste] consolidated interim storage facility license.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Nick Maxwell
P.O. Box 1064
Hobbs, NM 88241
Cc: Members of Eddy Lea Energy Alliance
Bcc: Undisclosed Interested Parties 
Wednesday
May022018

Opponents to Holtec/ELEA dominate public comment mtgs.; protesters crash NRC visit to CISF site

As reported by the Roswell (New Mexico) Daily News, as well as the Associated Press (reprinted in the Santa Fe New Mexican), opponents to the proposed centralized interim storage facility (CISF, a.k.a. MRS, short for Monitored Retrievable Storage site, previously called AFR, short for Away from Reactor storage) for highly radioactive irradiated nuclear fuel targeted at southeast New Mexico have dominated U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) public comment meetings thus far.

In fact, on April 25th, during a call-in/webinar mtg. held at NRC's Rockville, MD HQ, opponents skunked proponents of the de facto permanent, surface storage, "parking lot dump," by a count of 25 to 0.

On April 30th in Roswell, NM, opponents at the microphone outnumbered dump boosters 36 to 6. (The dump boosters included a spokesperson from Holtec, and five University of New Mexico nuclear engineering students.  One of the latter said, ironically and revealingly enough, that he hoped Holtec would open the dump, so that he could get a job there, and continue living in New Mexico, because of its natural beauty.)

On May 1st in Hobbs, NM, opponents outnumbered dump boosters 33 to 13. (The 13 dump boosters included the same Holtec spokesperson as above, plus an ELEA spokesman (Eddy-Lea [Counties] Energy Alliance), a Chamber of Commerce type, and the rest, local area elected officials. All are already addicted to such dirty nuclear industry money as flows from the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP is a dumpsite for military plutonium), URENCO uranium enrichment, and other nuclear activities in the s.e. NM area.) Dump opponents so outnumbering dump advocates is very significant, as Hobbs is a company town.

(ELEA is a joint venture of the cities of Hobbs and Carlsbad, as well as Eddy and Lea Counties. The Holtec CISF would be located about equi-distant, halfway between Hobbs and Carlsbad (32-34 miles from each).)

Altogether then, dump opponents have outnumbered dump proponents 94 to 19 at the three meetings held thus far. A fourth meeting will be held in the company town of Carlsbad, NM, near the WIPP site, on May 3rd.

[Update: at the Carlsbad meeting, anti-Holtec speakers outnumbered pro-Holtec speakers by a count of 34 to 27. This was quite a victory for anti-Holtec folks, as Carlsband is THE company town, the home base of Holtec/ELEA!

So all added up, at the four public comment meetings held thus far, anti-Holtec voices have outnumbered pro-Holtec voices at the microphone by a count of 128 to 46.

But in addition to this, Leona Morgan of Nuclear Issues Study Group, turned in 1,300+ signed letters of opposition to Holtec during her public comment in Carlsbad, as well!]

{MORE updates!

On May 21st, at the Gallup, NM NRC mtg., opponents outnumbered supporters of the Holtec/ELEA CISF by a count of 36 to 1.

At the May 22nd Albuquerque, NM NRC mtg., opponents outumbered supporters of the Holtec/ELEA CISF by a count of 69 to 6.

The overall count, from six NRC public comment meetings, is now 233 opposed, to 53 in support, a nearly 5 to 1 ratio!}

But not only have dump opponents quantitatively dominated dump advocates, the qualty of anti-dump voices has been very powerful and moving. For example, at the Roswell mtg., 11-year old Pai Marquez spoke powerfully against the dump -- getting applause from the entire room, including the law enforcement officers present! Her father, Noel Marquez, a muralist and farmer in Artesia, NM, is a leader of Alliance for Environmental Strategies (AFES), a lead anti-dump grassroots group.

(Here, by the way, are the slides NRC devotes the first 45 minutes of each meeting to.

At the meetings, dump opponents from a broad coalition of numerous local grassroots, NM state-wide, regional, and national groups -- including Beyond Nuclear -- also set up info. handout tables, countering those of Holtec and NRC.)

On May 1st, anti-dump protesters greeted NRC, ELEA, Holtec, NM Fish & Game, and other officials at the CISF site. The public had not been invited to the 1pm site tour, but showed up anyway! Local law enforcement (Lea County Sheriff's deputies), although quite friendly enough, nonetheless did not allow protesters any closer to the ex parte meeting, than the side of the county road (which is publicly accessible, by law).

On the lighter side, a protester dressed in an endangered prairie chicken costume, holding a sign reading (in (Chick-fil-A style) "No Mor Nukin Prairie Chikin Habitat," greeted the pro-dump entourage as it arrived in a convoy. The prairie chicken then bird-dogged them during their tour.

The endangered prairie chicken inhabits the region, but its habitat has been devastated by fossil fuel, nuclear, and other dirty, dangerous industries in the area. The Holtec scheme would only worsen the prairie chicken species's plight, making it impossible to ever return to its habitat at that site.

TAKE ACTION!

Please help block the Holtec/ELEA nuke waste dump, by submitting comments to NRC by the May 29th deadline. See how to do so, including sample comments you can use to help prepare your own, at this link.