“N.M. rejects nuclear waste storage amid Biden’s push for nuclear energy: It’s a permanent choice”


New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham recently signed a bill that put a ban on the transportation of spent nuclear fuel from commercial U.S. nuclear power plants into the state of New Mexico. This move came shortly after the state’s senate voted in favour of the bill on Friday, with 35 to 28 votes from lawmakers.

The bill, which was proposed by Democratic state Senator Jeff Steinborn of Las Cruces, is set to affect a multi-billion dollar facility that has been proposed for southern New Mexico. The facility, which is pioneering nuclear safety, could have the capacity to temporarily store up to 8,680 metric tons of used uranium fuel. With future expansions, it could potentially make room for as many as 10,000 canisters of spent fuel over the next 60 years.

If granted a license by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the project spearheaded by Holtec International would still require permission and clearance from the state’s Environment Department. Critics of the proposal argue that the state could lean on the legislation put in place and halt the project.

Some lawmakers have expressed concerns that the project would be located in the Permian Basin, one of the world’s most productive oilfields. The area is a significant source of revenue through drilling activities, and lawmakers fear that setting up a nuclear facility in the region would be counter-productive.

Although the project faces opposition from several lawmakers, pro-nuclear lawmakers argue that the project would be a welcome development that could bring employment opportunities and significant economic gains to the region. They note that the safety protocols involved in transporting the waste into the state of New Mexico are safe, and rigorous measures have been put in place to ensure that no radiation leaks occur during transportation.

With the federal government failing to establish a permanent repository, utilities continue to house the fuel on-site at a staggering cost that is projected to run into tens of billions of dollars over the next decade. According to data from the US Department of Energy, nuclear reactors across the country generate over 2,000 metric tons of radioactive waste annually, with most of it remaining on-site because there’s nowhere else to put it.

In November 2021, the US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm announced that the government is revisiting recommendations made a decade ago by a blue-ribbon commission on America’s nuclear future. The Secretary issued a request seeking feedback on a consent-based siting process to identify suitable storage locations for commercial spent nuclear fuel.

Despite opposition from environmentalists, the Biden administration has underlined the importance of harnessing nuclear power to achieve its plans to create a carbon-free electricity sector by 2035.

In conclusion, this legislation banning spent nuclear fuel transportation from commercial U.S. nuclear plants into the state of New Mexico marks a significant step in asserting control over nuclear safety issues by the state authorities. While the project faces opposition from some lawmakers, pro-nuclear lawmakers argue that it could bring massive economic gains and create employment opportunities in the region. Whatever the outcome, it’s essential to maintain optimal nuclear safety measures, given the high risk involved in handling nuclear waste.#Mexico #storing #spent #nuclear #fuel #Biden #touts #nuclear #energy #trouble #decision

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