BY MAIRE O’NEILL
The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities board is slated to hear Thursday from Ed Mayer, program director of the Holtec International UMAX proposed interim high-level nuclear storage facililty in near Eunice.
On June 7, the board heard a presentation by John Heaton, the vice chair of the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance, a group that has made an agreement with Holtec International to sell them 1,000 acres the Alliance purchased in 2006. Heaton reviewed Holtec informational material with the board and when he was done, board members asked for someone from Holtec to brief them at their next meeting.
Also on June 7, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham sent a letter to Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chair Kristine Svinicki expressing her opposition to the proposed storage of high-level nuclear waste in the state of New Mexico.
The governor’s letter stated that a facility like Holtec poses unacceptable risk to New Mexicans who look to southeastern New Mexico as a driver of economic growth in the state through its agriculture, oil and gas industries. The letter said establishing an interim storage facility in the region would be “economic malpractice” and that any disruption because of a perceived or actual incident would be catastrophic.
Since then, other state officials have also weighed in on the Holtec project. Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard has expressed concern about agreements Holtec claims to have secure from her office. While the Eddy-Leah County Energy Alliance privately owns the surface of the proposed site, the State Land Office owns the mineral estate, Garcia Richard claims.
Garcia Richard has also expressed concern over serious questions she says she and her staff have asked Holtec saying the company has not provided responses to questions about fracking and emergency response.
Congresswoman Deb Haaland has also expressed her opposition to the project saying she believe such a facility poses too great a risk to the health and safety of New Mexicans, the state’s economy and environment.
Also on the agenda are presentations by N3B, the legacy waste cleanup contractor at Los Alamos National Laboratory, on the contractor’s community commitment initiative from Todd Nelson and an update on the chromium plume at LANL from Danny Katzman, technical lead for the chromium project.
A review of the status of the Office of the State Auditor’ audit report and the current status of corrective measures required by that audit is also scheduled for discussion.
The meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers at the Española City Hall, 405 N. Paseo De Onate, Española.