HOBBS, N.M. (AP) — The southeastern New Mexico area that houses the federal government's troubled nuclear waste dump is renewing its push to also store spent nuclear fuel from power plants.
Lea and Eddy County have long advocated for such a facility, and officials say that effort could get a new boost thanks to a recent ruling by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The Hobbs News-Sun reports (http://goo.gl/b8SlF5) the NRC last month approved a plan for the continued storage of used nuclear fuel onsite at nuclear power plants.
Officials say that action could reopen the door for a long-term interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel in Lea and Eddy counties.
"NRC made a decision ... to allow storage to go forward," said John Heaton, president of the Eddy/Lea Energy Alliance, an multicounty and city organization working to lure a nuclear project to a jointly owned 640-acre site in western Lea County. "That had been on hold because of court intervention. The court has allowed them to go forward with interim storage. That is a very big step. There are a lot of facilities that don't have the ability or desire to store spent fuel onsite."
The move comes as officials work to reopen the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Eddy County near Carlsbad after a mysterious leak that contaminated 22 workers with low levels of radiation. The deep underground repository is the government's only permanent repository for waste from decades of nuclear bomb building. Cleanup is expected to take years.
Information from: Hobbs News-Sun, http://www.hobbsnews.com