Holtec Buys Shutdown Nuclear Power Plants to Create New Spent Fuel Supply Chain for Proposed New Mexico Facility

Holtec International recently purchased two shutdown nuclear power plants in Michigan to create a supply chain of spent fuel rods for its proposed consolidated interim storage facility in southeastern New Mexico’s Permian Basin.    The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff is expected to issue a Final Environmental Impact Statement this month and an operating license in early 2023 for the proposed “temporary” storage facility for spent nuclear fuel.  https://www.nrc.gov/waste/spent-fuel-storage/cis/holtec-international.html

Having a license is only one of many steps needed for spent fuel to come to New Mexico.  The state governments of New Mexico and Texas, along with environmental and safe-energy groups, are challenging the Holtec license application in federal court.  http://nuclearactive.org/all-pueblo-council-of-governors-oppose-holtec-and-wcs-isp/ ;  http://nuclearactive.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Attorney_General_Balderas_Announces_Lawsuit_to_Halt_Holtec_Nuclear_Storage_Facility.pdf ; https://www.currentargus.com/story/news/local/2021/09/27/texas-sues-block-nuclear-waste-facility-along-new-mexico-border/5883388001/  New Mexico would also have to issue several permits before the site could receive any waste.

At the end of June, Entergy finalized the sale to Holtec of two permanently shutdown nuclear power plants, the Palisades https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palisades_Nuclear_Generating_Station and Big Rock Point https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Rock_Point_Nuclear_Power_Plant , both located on the shoreline of Michigan’s Lake Michigan.  The NRC then transferred the licenses from Entergy to Holtec.

In early 2021 a coalition of environmental groups challenged the proposed license transfers.  The groups are Don’t Waste Michigan https://www.dontwastemichigan.org/ , Beyond Nuclear https://beyondnuclear.org/ , Michigan Safe Energy Future http://michigansafeenergyfuture.org/index.html , Michigan Safe Energy Future – Kalamazoo Chapter http://michigansafeenergyfuture.org/index.html , and Palisades Shutdown Campaign http://michigansafeenergyfuture.org/palisades-shutdown-campaign.html .   But the court has yet to issue any rulings on the challenges.

Upon learning about the license transfers, Terry Lodge, an attorney based in Toledo, Ohio who serves as the environmental coalition’s legal counsel, asked, “When do we get our day in court?”

Lodge added, “We filed numerous contentions opposing Holtec’s takeover, including its unacceptably shallow radiological contamination cleanup plans, its scheme to barge highly radioactive wastes on Lake Michigan to the port of Muskegon, and its corrupt corporate character, including its involvement in bribery scandals.”  https://www.toledoblade.com/local/2018/05/25/Activist-attorney-Terry-Lodge-receives-national-award.htmlhttps://beyondnuclear.org/public-stonewalled-in-holtec-takeover-of-palisades-and-big-rock-point-atomic-reactor-sites-entergy-confirms-license-transfer-no-nrc-public-hearings-held/

Many in New Mexico are opposed to the Holtec proposal because the “temporary” facility would become a de facto permanent site.  There is no permanent repository so once the spent fuel came to New Mexico, there would be no way to require it to move to a repository.

Don Hancock, of Southwest Research and Information Center in Albuquerque, asked why New Mexico should store the waste when there are no nuclear power plants in New Mexico.  He questioned the risks of transporting highly radioactive spent fuel rods along waterways and through communities, ranches and farms.  He also said that New Mexicans did not need to accept the risk of an interim storage site, which could become a permanent storage site.  http://sric.org/

  1. Thursday, July 7th at 5: 30 pm – in person and virtual WIPP Community Forum & Open House at Santa Fe Convention Center in Okeefe and Milagro Rooms, 201 West Marcy Street, Santa Fe.  Open house to follow where stakeholders can meet the WIPP leadership team.  Hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Carlsbad Field Office (CBFO) and Nuclear Waste Partnership LLC (NWP).  http://nuclearactive.org/wipp-to-stay-open-forever-speak-up-at-the-july-7th-wipp-community-forum/



  1. Friday, July 8th from noon to 1 pm – Join the weekly peaceful protest for nuclear disarmament on the corners of Alameda and Guadalupe in downtown Santa Fe. Celebrate the successful historic First Meeting of State Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and talk about next steps!



  1. Tuesday, July 12th from 5:30 to 7:30 pm – LANL Meeting about proposed amendments to the TA-16-399 Closure Plan for Open Burning Treatment Unit at LANL. For more information, contact Steven Horak at envoutreach@lanl.gov



  1. Saturday, July 16th, at 7 am – 1 pm: 43rd Uranium Tailings Spill Legacy Commemoration 12 miles north of Red Rock State Park on Hwy 566 near Church Rock, NM.  For more information, call 505 577-8438 and https://swuraniumimpacts.org/



  1. Saturday, July 16th – 13th Annual Candlelight Vigil (beginning at 8 pm at the Little League Field) and Town Hall (from 2 to 4 pm at the Tularosa Community Center), Tularosa, NM. For more information, https://www.trinitydownwinders.com/  

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