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.



U.S. House votes 340 to 72 to "Screw Nevada," again -- and perhaps New Mexico and Texas, too, while they're at it!

One of the six toes, on one of the feet, of the Yucca Dump Mutant Zombie (see image, left), twitched yesterday. By a lopsided vote of 340 to 72, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of "Screw Nevada 2.0," a reprise of the 1987 "Screw Nevada" bill, that singled out Yucca Mountain for the country's highly radioactive waste dump-site in the first place. This was the biggest vote on nuclear waste in the U.S. House in 16 years, and seeks to overturn the Obama administration's wise 2010 cancellation of the unsuitable Yucca Mountain Project.

In addition to approving H.R. 3053, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2018, the House, "in its wisdom" (or lack thereof!), similarly voted down an amendment offered by Dina Titus (Democrat-NV), that would have required consent-based siting for a dump like Yucca, per the 2012 recommendations by the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future. Thank you to everyone who contacted their U.S. Rep. urging opposition to H.R. 3053.

Please check this link for more info., including to see how your U.S. Rep. voted on the Titus amendment, and the overall bill. Then please thank or "spank" (express your disappointment to) your U.S. Rep., accordingly, and point out the high-risk "Mobile Chernobyl" impacts of shipping 110,000 metric tons (an increase from the current legal limit of 70,000) of highly radioactive waste, by truck, train, and/or barge, through 44 states, dozens of major cities, and 330 of 435 U.S. congressional districts, if H.R. 3053 becomes law.

In addition to expediting the opening of the Yucca dump, by gutting due process and environmental and safety regulations, H.R. 3053 would authorize centralized interim storage facilities (CISFs, or de facto permanent, surface storage, "parking lot dumps"), as targeted at Holtec/ELEA, NM and WCS, TX. Re: Holtec/ELEA, please continue submitting environmental scoping public comments to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission by the May 29th deadline -- see how, and for more info., at this link.

And please also contact both your U.S. Senators, urging them to oppose bad, dangerous nuke waste dumps targeted at NM, NV, and/or TX, and the inevitable Mobile Chernobyls they would launch: call your U.S. Senators via the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, and fill out and submit Food & Water Watch's webform!

To learn more about the Yucca dump scheme, CISF proposals, and nuclear waste transport risks, please see the corresponding Beyond Nuclear website sub-sections.


NRC press release: NRC to Hold Additional Public Meetings in [Gallup & Albuquerque,] New Mexico on Holtec’s Proposed Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility‌ [Public Comment Deadline on Environmental Scoping Extended, from May 29 till July 30]

Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Press Release [See PDF of press release, here]

No: 18-018 May 11, 2018

CONTACT: David McIntyre, 301-415-8200

NRC to Hold Additional Public Meetings

in New Mexico on Holtec’s Proposed

Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility


The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has announced two additional public meetings to be held in New Mexico to seek public comment on the scope of the agency’s environmental review of Holtec International’s application to build a spent nuclear fuel storage facility in the southeastern part of the state. The meetings will be held on May 21 in Gallup and May 22 in Albuquerque, N.M. [See an update below, an urgent action alert from Janet Greenwald of CARD NM, about a May 21 Albuquerque City Council meeting, at which a memorial opposing Holtec/ELEA due to transporation risks, will take place.]

The May 21 meeting will be held at the Gallup Downtown Conference Center, 204 W. Coal Ave., in Gallup. The May 22 meeting will be held at the Crown Plaza Hotel,1901 University Blvd., in Albuquerque. Both meetings are scheduled to run from 6-9 p.m., with an open house beginning at 5 p.m., for members of the public to meet informally with NRC staff.

Holtec submitted its application for a consolidated interim storage facility for commercial spent nuclear fuel on March 30, 2017. The NRC formally docketed the application on Feb. 28, and published a Federal Register notice on March 30 requesting public comments on the scope of its environmental review. The NRC staff held public scoping meetings on April 25 at agency headquarters in Rockville, Md., and the week of April 30-May 4 in Roswell, Hobbs and Carlsbad, N.M.

At the scoping meetings, NRC staff members involved in reviewing the application will make a brief presentation about the review process. The bulk of the meetings will be devoted to allowing members of the public to make statements. Comments will be transcribed and used by the staff to define the scope of its environmental review. Spanish-speaking staff will be at each of the meetings to assist with translation if needed.

In response to requests from the public, NRC staff is extending the deadline for submitting comments from May 29 to July 30. [emphasis added] Comments may be submitted through the federal government’s rulemaking website,, using Docket ID NRC-2018-0052. A notice will be published soon in the Federal Register with additional information about the upcoming scoping meetings and how to submit comments. Meeting notices for Gallup and Albuquerque are posted on the NRC website.


Nuclear waste issue divides candidates

As reported by Michael Coleman in the Albuquerque Journal.

Michelle Lujan Grisham, U.S. Rep. from n. NM, and a leading Democratic candidate for governor, spoke forcefully about the risks of so-called "interim storage" becoming de facto permanent, by default:

Lujan Grisham said that if Holtec was licensed as a temporary storage facility and then Yucca Mountain never opened, New Mexico would be stuck with the waste.

“This bill will only create more uncertainty by creating a dangerous loophole that could permanently strand nuclear waste in New Mexico without any guarantee that a long-term strategy will eventually be agreed upon,” Lujan Grisham said. “Storing and transporting nuclear waste is incredibly dangerous. Singling out New Mexico and Nevada, and making massive policy changes based purely on political considerations is completely irresponsible.”


Nuclear waste could be headed to West Texas under House bill

As reported by James Osborne in the Houston Chronicle.

While the article focuses on the Waste Control Specialists, LLC (WCS) and Orano (formerly Areva, and before that, Cogema) of France's proposal for a centralized interim storage facility (CISF) for 40,000 metric tons of irradiated nuclear fuel in Andrews County, west Texas, and the breakdown of votes amongst Texan U.S. Representatives for or against H.R. 3053 (the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2018), the article also mentions the Holtec/ELEA, NM CISF proposal towards the end.


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


For immediate release: May 9, 2018


Terry Lodge, environmental coalition attorney, (419) 205-7084,

Kevin Kamps, Radioactive Waste Specialist, Beyond Nuclear, (240) 462-3216,

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.”


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.

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