Commentary: Congresswoman Deb Haaland announced her opposition to storing high level nuclear waste in New Mexico in a letter to the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Haaland’s letter comes after Holtec International submitted an application for a license to construct an interim high-level radioactive waste storage facility in Lea County, New Mexico. In her letter, she cited operational and logistical risks that pose a risk to the state.
“I believe such a facility poses too great a risk to the health and safety of New Mexicans, our economy and our environment,” Congresswoman Deb Haaland wrote.
According to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, high-level radioactive wastes produce fatal doses of radiation in short periods of exposure. High-level radioactive waste is the byproduct reactions that occur inside nuclear power plants. As of 2018 there were approximately 80 thousand metric tons of spent nuclear fuel in the US with 2 thousand metric tons being added each year. Currently, a permanent storage facility for high-level radioactive waste does not exist and there is no plan to construct one, which puts New Mexico at risk of becoming a storage location indefinitely.
Haaland continued, “Rather than wasting time and money on an interim storage facility that increases the risk posed by nuclear waste, we should be focusing on storing the waste more securely at the sites where it currently resides while we develop a permanent repository.”
Haaland’s full letter is available here.