Citing overwhelming public opposition, risks to area resources, and distrust of the Department of Energy (DOE) contractors, on April 25th, 2017, the Tucumcari City Commission unanimously passed a resolution opposing DOE’s proposed Deep Borehole Field Test in Quay County. Neighboring government bodies also passed resolutions opposing the proposal, including the Quay County Commission, Harding County Commission, and the Union County Commission.
DOE proposed drilling a borehole three miles deep in order to study the crystalline formation at a privately-held site near Nara Visa. Although the borehole is part of a geologic study, people are very concerned that it could be a precursor for siting a nuclear waste dump there.
The idea grew out of President Obama’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, which met and held public meetings across the country from March 2010 and January 2012. Its mission was to “conduct a comprehensive review of policies for managing the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle and recommend a new strategy.” One of its goals was for communities to volunteer or “consent” as a place for America’s growing nuclear waste disposal needs. https://energy.gov/ne/downloads/blue-ribbon-commission-americas-nuclear-future-report-secretary-energy
Currently, DOE is exploring four sites – one in South Dakota, one in Texas, and two in New Mexico. The other New Mexico site is located on the Otero Mesa in rural southeastern Otero County. DOE hired four contractors to gain consent. The contractors are required to establish community support during Phase I of the project, which ends May 31st. ENERCON is the contractor in Quay County. TerranearPMC is the contractor in Otero County.
In Otero County, the Public Land Use Advisory Committee is recommending the Otero County Commission oppose the project during its regular meeting on May 12th. http://www.alamogordonews.com/story/news/local/community/2017/04/26/pluac-opposes-controversial-borehole-project/100957366/ To support the people opposing the project and sign their petition, please go to https://www.facebook.com/drillnot/
Taking matters into their own hands, the Say NO to the Borehole! group in Quay County held five public meetings in New Mexico and Texas. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1822548207994770/ ENERCON promised to attend at least two of the group’s public meetings, but only attended the first meeting, claiming hurt feelings over attendees calling them liars. ENERCON representatives refused to attend any further public meetings held in Quay County.
ENERCON held a meeting last week in Clovis, more than 100 miles from the proposed Nara Visa test site. At the close of the meeting, the facilitator took an audience poll which revealed approximately three were in favor of the borehole, eight “learned something new,” and the remaining fifty opposed the project.
After the Clovis meeting, Ed Hughs, a Nara Visa native, said, “Even 100 miles away, in a different county, and in a meeting controlled by ENERCON, they still can’t get support.”