The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's decision to withhold a wide range of safety information related to a proposed uranium enrichment plant in southeastern New Mexico could prove to be a two-edged sword.
Citing concerns that terrorists could use the information, the NRC has clamped down on information it will release to the public. That's the same public Louisiana Energy Services (LES) is trying to convince that its nuclear fuel plant will be safe.
But the NRC is using an enormous umbrella to cover what it deems terrorist-friendly information -- including items as eclectic as earthquake probability.
Oddly, some LES information now being withheld -- including worst-case accident scenarios -- is already in the public domain, having been distributed in September in a 480-page Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Newer versions of the document have been prodigiously redacted, even though an earlier draft was posted on the Internet.
The state Environment Department, already at odds with the NRC over its refusal to consider state regulators' questions about health and safety issues at the planned plant, has just raised a new hurdle to state acceptance of the facility.
Nobody wants to aid terrorists. But unless the NRC makes available enough information for state officials and watchdog groups to make informed decisions on hosting the LES plant, New Mexico must err on the side of caution and -- like two states before it -- say thanks, but no thanks.
Copyright 2004 Albuquerque Journal