ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE NEWS RELEASE
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas and Environment Secretary James Kenney have asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit to review the decision of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to grant a license to build a “Consolidated Interim Storage Facility” (CISF) in Andrews County, Texas. The facility, known as the Waste Control Specialists (WCS) CISF, would be located just a quarter of a mile from the New Mexico Border, 5 miles east of Eunice, New Mexico, and 45 miles east of the proposed Holtec CISF for which a license is also pending before the NRC. New Mexico previously filed a separate lawsuit challenging aspects of that licensing procedure. Yesterday’s filing in the 10th Circuit is a part of New Mexico’s multi-pronged challenge to NRC’s approval of both these high level nuclear waste storage facilities.
Although the CISFs are labeled “interim” facilities, the WCS license is for a period of 40 years, and given the ongoing failure of NRC to license a permanent repository, the WCS is likely to become a de facto permanent resting place for up to 5,500 tons of spent nuclear fuel from nuclear generators from around the country. The facility itself, and the transportation of the spent nuclear waste to and from the facility, pose an unacceptable risk of accidental release of highly radioactive material and imposes unfunded mandates upon the state for emergency response and remediation. The license was granted despite the protests of both Texas and New Mexico and despite the absence of the requisite conditions for the NRC to take title to the waste, and was based on a flawed and inadequate Environmental Impact Statement.
“The NRC has rammed through this approval of a nuclear waste dump just outside of New Mexico’s border in violation of the clear intent of Congress and without due regard to the risks and expenses it would impose on our State,” said Attorney General Hector Balderas. “I will continue to fight to protect our state’s natural resources.”
“New Mexicans deserve a fully transparent and scientifically-complete environmental review prior to licensing a radioactive waste storage facility in West Texas,” said Cabinet Secretary James Kenney of the New Mexico Environment Department. “It is unconscionable to short-circuit this legal process and impose the associated public health and environmental risks on our communities. Today, New Mexico stands against the southwest becoming a dumping ground for the nation’s radioactive waste.”