A quasi-judicial Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is scheduled on May 10 to decide which organizations are authorized to intervene in the license application for a temporary storage facility in New Mexico for spent fuel from nuclear power reactors.
The same three-person board would then begin adjudicating corresponding requests for intervention in the application for a spent fuel storage facility just across the border in West Texas, an NRC spokesman said Monday.
In March 2017, Holtec International applied for a 40-year NRC license to build and operate a facility for underground storage in Lea County, N.M., of up to 173,000 metric tons of commercial spent fuel. The material would theoretically remain there until the federal government meets its legal mandate to build a permanent repository for U.S. spent fuel and high-level radioactive waste.
The petitioners for intervention are: the Sierra Club; Beyond Nuclear; a coalition of environmental groups headed by Don’t Waste Michigan; regional energy entities Fasken Land and Minerals and Permian Basin Land and Royalty Owners; and the Alliance for Environmental Solutions.
Each petitioner must prove it has standing to intervene and has submitted admissible contentions for consideration in licensing. Broadly, the organizations have raised concerns about the potential environmental, safety, and economic impacts of shipping spent fuel across the country and storing it for decades.
Four jurisdictions near the planned facility have also petitioned to participate in the proceeding as interested local government bodies: the cities of Hobbs and Carlsbad and Lea and Eddy counties. Those jurisdictions are the members of the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance, which is partnering with Holtec on the project and separately petitioned to join the proceeding.
Atomic Safety and Licensing Board decisions on the intervention petitions can be appealed to the full commission.