The partial shutdown of the federal government appears likely to force relocation of oral arguments on requests to intervene in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission license application for a planned spent nuclear fuel storage site in New Mexico.
The NRC has received its full-year funding for the current fiscal 2019, but federal courts are expected to run out of money by Jan. 18, according to reports this week.
“Because of the partial shutdown of the federal government, it appears the United States District Court in Albuquerque, New Mexico may be unable to accommodate the oral argument in this proceeding that has been scheduled for January 23-24, 2019,” Paul Ryerson, chairman of the NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board that is considering the intervention petitions, wrote Tuesday to participants in the upcoming prehearing.
The three-member board anticipates finding another location in Albuquerque, Ryerson stated. “A further order, confirming the location and providing additional information concerning the argument, will be issued within the next 1-2 days.”
Eighteen organizations have filed petitions declaring they have standing for intervention and hearings to support or oppose Holtec International’s plans for a facility in Lea County that could temporarily store up to 173,000 metric tons of used fuel from nuclear power reactors around the nation.
The Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance has petitioned to participate as a local interested government body, as have its four members: the cities of Carlsbad and Hobbs and Lea and Eddy counties. The organization is partnering with Holtec on the project.
Would-be intervenors that oppose the facility include the Sierra Club, Beyond Nuclear, a coalition of nongovernmental groups led by Don’t Waste Michigan, and the regional energy concerns Fasken Land and Minerals and Permian Basin Land and Royalty Owners.
The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board rules on the intervention requests, but its decisions can be appealed to the commission.