Activists Fear Consequences Of High-Level Nuclear Waste Storage

Apr 27, 2015

Advanced Test Reactor, Idaho National Laboratory
Credit Argonne National Laboratory via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Governor Susana Martinez is throwing her weight behind the idea of increasing nuclear waste storage in southeastern New Mexico and anti-nuclear activists fear the consequences.

In a letter that was obtained by The Santa Fe New Mexican, the governor told the U.S. Secretary of Energy that she supports the creation of an interim nuclear waste storage facility for spent nuclear fuel rod from power plants. Martinez wrote that communities in southeastern New Mexico could broaden their economic base with more nuclear industry work.

Don Hancock said there are two fundamental problems with this idea. He’s with the Southwest Research and Information Center in Albuquerque. First, nuclear fuel rods would have to be transported thousands of miles across the United States.

“So not only New Mexico,” he explained, “but people in lots of other states would be affected by the transportation, which would be extremely dangerous.”

The second problem, Hancock said, is that interim storage would likely become permanent storage because there is no other existing permanent storage site. Spent nuclear fuel is currently being stored on-site at nuclear power plants across the country.