Stored Nuclear Fuel (SNF); A Profit Center for NM:

Recently I was asked why I advocate for the aggregate storage of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste in New Mexico. The bottom line for me is revenue for the State of New Mexico. Sometimes, I am appalled at the decisions our state government makes to encourage new businesses to come to New Mexico. There have been some boondoggles that residents have had to pay for through taxes.

It is not often when a business opportunity comes along that is not demanding a financial break on taxes and fees but will bring new money and good-paying jobs to the state. The HI-STORE Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility proposed project for southeast NM is one of those opportunities. It will bring $billion in capital investments in the state and generate $million in taxes and fees for New Mexico.

New Mexico has always been a leader in nuclear research and development through Los Alamos and Sandia Labs. Three areas of technology are weapons, nuclear reactors, and radioactive waste management (WIPP). LANL and SNL have brought together some intellectual minds to solve the many challenges of all things nuclear. They have provided a substantial part of New Mexico GDP.

The nuclear energy industry is the only energy industry that stores and manages all its unused fuel waste safely. It is the aggregate of spent nuclear fuel that presents another private business opportunity in New Mexico. The proposed HI-STORE will provide a consolidated storage facility with subsurface dry silos completely encapsulated in steel and concrete.

The sealed nuclear fuel canisters will be placed in the subsurface silos for future recycling and reuse in advance molten salt fast reactors (MCSFR). There is a substantial revenue (new money) stream to be made for the surrounding communities and the state from the construction and maintenance of this nuclear fuel storage facility. This stored nuclear fuel revenue stream could last for centuries if the politicians and environmentalists don’t get in the way.

HI-STORE could provide the nuclear fuel inventory for the 21st century and beyond, for the next era of reactors; molten chloride salt fast reactors (MCSFR). These newer reactors could consume all of the unused nuclear fuel stored at HI-STORE over the next 400 years at today’s capacity of 20% clean electricity for the US national grids before any new uranium extractions would be needed. When you include all the stored depleted uranium, that same electrical capacity could last 4,000 years.

If we build thousands of MCSFR around the entire world, we would still not have to be concerned with running out of nuclear fuel. Watch this video to see how this would happen:

Will we run out of uranium and thorium? We did the math: – YouTube

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This video explains how the Holtec UMAX Storage System is constructed. The HI-STORE CISF project in New Mexico will use the exact system with any improvements that were experienced building 3 UMAX systems in the US so far. This video is a great teaching tool for anyone who wants to know how spent nuclear fuel can be stored in the US for the next 100-300 years.

(9) The Holtec Spent Fuel Storage System at SONGS – YouTube

Annual Letter to NM Governor about HI-STORE CISF


The Honorable Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham,

There is only one reason to oppose the Holtec HI-STORE CISF project in Eddy and Lea counties – FEAR of nuclear. There are many reasons to support this project, such as its SAFE. The difference between those two words is RISK. There are usually two sides to every situation, and I have studied all sides of nuclear for the last ten years as a retirement hobby. As such, I have met many smart people on both sides of the nuclear debate. It is from this self-taught knowledge that I can support nuclear in New Mexico from a very pragmatic perspective.

The best way to overcome fear is through knowledge. It is the unknown and all the “what if’s” our conscience develops from past experiences. Of course, the only way to overcome that is to acknowledge it and respect it. That is what a pragmatic person does with everything we encounter in life, starting with fire. To this day, I still fear the hazards of fire, but I do use it safely. Not everyone respects fire the way it should be, but with nuclear, the entire world respects it and takes every precaution to use it and manage it safely.

The United States has always been the leader in setting the regulations for nuclear use from the “Atoms for Peace” program to the present. Our fleet of energy reactors is the safest in the world if you can be safer than safe. The only unsafe entity is one that has caused death. No one in the United States has ever died from acute radiation poisoning working within or living near a nuclear power plant or any nuclear storage facility since the beginning of the commercial nuclear energy era, approximately 70 years now. No other industry can state that record, especially our very own O&G industry and even our dairy producers (both have methane exposures).

After fear, the number one concern about the HI-STORE CISF project is: how long is interim or how many years will the stored nuclear fuel be present at the proposed site? Once spent fuel rods are placed in a safe canister-cask combination, it only needs to stay contained for 300 years while the contents decay to an inert matter state. One of the worst disinformation myths is that the stored nuclear fuel is dangerous for 10,000 years or more based on the half-life of only one of the elements: plutonium.

There is a technology that can eliminate all unused uranium, plutonium, and other fission products that make up stored nuclear fuel, all within 100 years, without any by-products or waste. That technology is molten chloride salt fast reactors being developed right here in the United States by companies like Bill Gates’ TerraPower Energy and Ed Pheil’s Elysium Industries.

Unused (spent) nuclear fuel from today’s fleet of light water reactors (LWR), should never be buried in deep underground repositories like Yucca Mt. or any borehole strategy.

Stored solid nuclear fuel rods should be retrievable. They can be recycled and reused by converting to a salt-based liquid fuel, known as molten salt-based uranium fuel. The new molten salt fuel would be the fuel source for advanced molten chloride (fast) reactors or fluoride molten salt (thermal) reactors. There is an ongoing development of this technology around the world by other nations like Canada, Indonesia, China, Russia, Japan, Germany, England, France and intended for use in many other countries to electrify the world.

I ask only one thing of you. Please take another look at how safe nuclear energy and fuel management is. New Mexico should continue to participate in this future energy source of the future. Thank you.

Martin Kral, Roswell, NM

Low Dose Radiation Therapy (LDRT), when other treatments have failed.

The primary cause of death in COVID-19 is severe pneumonia leading to respiratory failure. Radiation in low doses (<100 cGy) is known for its anti-inflammatory effect. Therefore, low-dose radiation therapy (LDRT) to the lungs can potentially mitigate the severity of pneumonia and reduce mortality.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been renewed interest in using low-dose radiotherapy as a treatment option for infected patients in critical conditions when other treatments have failed to produce a cure. In the early 20th century, viral and bacterial pneumonia patients were treated with radiotherapy to deliver lung doses of 0.3 to 1.0 Gy using 100 to 200 kVp x-ray beams. These were one-time treatments, and signs of recovery appeared as early as 3 to 5 hours after irradiation.

Modern fluoroscopes could be an alternative to deliver therapeutic radiation doses to the lungs using x-ray energies similar to those used historically. Fluoroscopes are more widely available worldwide than radiotherapy linear accelerators to be used in intensive care units (ICUs) or emergency rooms (ERs), eliminating the need for patient transportation to a radiation oncology clinic.

The benefit-to-risk ratio is high for elderly patients, who are more susceptible to complications from COVID-19 and less likely to develop radiation-induced cancers. The radiobiologic response remains to be explored further in COVID-19 pneumonia. A safe, illness-reducing therapy, delivered with fluoroscopy technology, could be immediately implemented.

Will this method affect any of the antibodies that the immune may have developed. In other words, after the infection has subsided, will the natural immune system build up the necessary antibodies?

A side note:

Here is my final statement referenced from an article written in the year 2000 (that is not a misprint). “Low-dose radiation has shown to enhance biological responses for immune systems, enzymatic repair, physiological functions, and the removal of cellular damage, including prevention of cancer and other diseases. Research on low-level radiation has also shown it to have no (limited) adverse effects. Yet, current radiation protection policy and practice fail to consider these valid data, instead of relying on data that are poor, ambiguous, misrepresented, and manipulated—the linear no-threshold (LNT) concept.

In his 1995 book, Prof. Dr. Gunnar Walinder, the preeminent Swedish radiation scientist, bluntly stated: “I do not hesitate to say that the LNT is the greatest scientific scandal of the 20th Century”.

Now we have the first great scandal of the 21st Century with COVID-19. The second would probably be the 2020 Presidential Election.

Sustainable nuclear fuel stream from NM:

In 2010, New Mexico became one of the nuclear fuel sources for the existing light water reactor (LWR) fleet here in the United States. Unfortunately, there are financial reasons and political forces that are causing these LWR power plants to shutter prematurely with many decades of productive electricity generation.

These closures put a lot of pressure on the Federal Administration’s non-fossil fuel replacements policy to meet climate change management requirements by 2050. Wind and solar with battery backup has failed to provide consistent electricity to the national grid so far and doesn’t appear to be a realistic strategy.

Fortunately, there is a future source of clean energy, advanced molten salt reactor (MSR), with worldwide development efforts to replace all existing electricity generation; coal power generating stations, combined-cycle natural gas power stations, wind and solar industrial farms, biomass causing deforestation and even decommissioned LWR nuclear power plants.

These MSR’s are going to use a molten salt (liquid) fuel stream. The supply chain for that fuel starts with all the solid spent uranium fuel rods left unused from the last 60 years of LWR operations. All that spent solid fuel is currently stored in a canister/cask on concrete pads at each nuclear power plant site.

The conversion process to convert solid fuel rods to a molten salt solution requires a facility. This facility would remove the zirconium cladding, exposing the ceramic uranium pellets to be chopped up into a sandy texture, and put into a vat of molten chlorine to chemically separate the impurities (noble gases and noble metals), leaving just the uranium, plutonium, and fission products. These three radioactive materials are the base components of the molten salt fuel source for the molten chloride salt fast reactors (MCSFR).

The conversion facility should be consolidated and centralized to minimize cost. There are two types of molten salt fuels, 1) seed fuel (mostly plutonium) for a new startup reactor and 2) feed fuel (mostly uranium) continuously fed into the MCSFR without shutting down the reactor. These MSR’s can run 40 to 60 years and would be recycled and refurbish for another 60 years without any nuclear fuel waste to manage and store.

There are two practical places to manufacture the molten salt nuclear fuel. The National Lab network because they are already licensed to handle the plutonium for the seed fuel and at a consolidated interim storage facility like HI-STORE CISF for the feed fuel (different NRC license). HI-STORE could be THE STORE for nuclear fuel and possibly to export it to other countries. Both seed and feed nuclear fuels can come from New Mexico.

HI-STORE CISF is a proposed $3 billion capital investment in New Mexico without subsidies from the state will generate $24 million per year in taxes and fees, as well as very good-paying jobs in construction and operation. HI-STORE CISF is on 300 acres of the 1,000-acre storage site in Lea County.

There is plenty of room to also build a molten salt conversion facility at the same location so that fuel can be processed on an “as-needed basis” or inventoried in subsurface silos, just like the solid fuel rods are. This conversion facility has the potential to generate a multi-billion dollar industry.

Nuclear fuel storage and nuclear fuel conversion would complement the existing WIPP nuclear waste storage plant and the existing URENCO Enrichment Plant with its stored depleted uranium, just down the road. Nuclear will be the future energy source here on earth, and HI-STORE could be the molten fuel source depot for interplanetary travels and colonization.

The threat of a pandemic annihilation:

For the last four years, there was a growing fear of nuclear annihilation with President Trump in office. But instead, we get a virus world war with the Chinese. Who saw that coming? Without getting into details of any conspiracy theories, someone did. We have had many recent outbreaks of viruses all over the world, Ebola in Africa, Zika in Brazil, H1N1 in China, SARS in China, MERS in the Middle East, and let’s not forget HIV from Africa. There are others, not as well known, but they all have one thing in common: We did not shut down entire states and countries worldwide.

Humans have been battling viruses since before our species had even evolved into its modern form. For some viral diseases, vaccines and antiviral drugs have allowed us to keep infections from spreading widely and have helped sick people recover. However, before the vaccines and antiviral drugs, there was a very effective treatment of any viral infectious disease: low-dose radiation treatment with x-rays.

The twice awarded noble prize winner Madame (Marie) Curie for her work with radiation saved millions of lives during World War I with the use of her portable x-ray machines on the front lines. She and her large nursing contingent were able to determine if a limb had to be severed or not and countered infections with the use of low-dose radiation. After WWI, through the 1950s, low-dose radiation was used to treat pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.

With treatment so effective on lung infections (that is what COVID-19 is), why did the US stop using the procedure? There were two reasons: 1) the fear that all radiation is dangerous and 2) the introduction of BIG PHARMA(CY) with drug-induced treatments and preventative vaccines. Low-dose radiation enhances the immune system to fight off the viral infection and build up anti-bodies. Preventive vaccine, on the other hand, introduces a low-dose of the virus to let the natural immune system develop the anti-bodies.

There are two ways to manage COVID-19; before you are infected or after you are infected. It appears that a mask, hand washing, and social distancing is not a workable solution in a free society. You shut down part of the economy and expect the virus not to seek out and find a victim? That is what viruses do. The only way to stop that is to allow everyone to build up their immune systems with the necessary anti-bodies. That will not happen if you shut down entire states and counties.

Will people die? Yes. HIV has killed 32 million people worldwide. COVID-19 has allegedly killed a little over a million, mostly in the older age groups and compromised health issues. Billions will get infected and recover with the necessary anti-bodies to continue living life. However, when you have an overzealous Governor thinking she can stop the spread of the virus by shutting down the entire state over and over again, you would think that someone in Santa Fe would get a clue. Here is something else to think about: Hydroxychloroquine works as an early treatment and preventative prophylactic too.

They are the same government officials who are also confused about the difference between low-dose radiation and high-dose radiation. We use high dose radiation to kill cancer cells, and we use low-dose radiation for CT-Scan diagnostics. Most everyone has had an x-ray or two in the ER or at the dentist, does not think twice about the radiation exposure.

But not when it comes to encased nuclear wastes or fuel storage, which has a lower radiation level within 3 ft. than any hospital procedure using radiation. I am sure the anti-nuclear advocates and misinformed politicians have had their share of x-rays and other radiation medical procedures throughout their lifetime, have just one problem with the nuclear energy industry – NIMBY! There are no technical reasons to avoid nuclear, only baseless sociopolitical fear.

I mentioned Hydroxychloroquine because of this video:

Nuclear in New Mexico (and Mars):

The New Mexico Governor and Legislature have taken a very short-sighted position on New Mexico’s nuclear industry, especially with their opposition to expanding stored nuclear waste at WIPP and stored nuclear fuel at the proposed HI-STORE CISF. New Mexico has been storing transuranic nuclear waste at WIPP for the last 21 years and nuclear uranium fuel at URENCO since 2010. Both operations are located in the middle of the Permian Basin and pose little to no risk based on experience.

Several letters sent to the DOE/NRC by politicians in both New Mexico and Texas have outlined the perceived risk and danger to the safety and health concerns of the general population and the environment. They have even called out New Mexico as a “nuclear dump” when the reality is; nuclear storage is safer than all other stored and non-stored materials because of strict regulations and safe storage encasement. Nuclear in New Mexico is safe because there are no deaths from acute radiation exposure at any nuclear storage facility in the US. That is not the situation for the O&G Industry.

New Mexico’s nuclear industry is not just about nuclear waste storage or nuclear fuel storage. What most people do not know or understand is that New Mexico is also about nuclear reactor research and development at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Many reactor variations have been designed, developed, prototyped, and tested over the last 50 years, only one has transitioned out of the Lab – Space Nuclear Power Corporation (also known as SpaceNukes).

This New Mexico corporation is going to market a micro fission reactor to power spacecraft and space colonies. Elon Musk is making great strides in spaceship development with his Space X Crew Dragon rockets with flights to and from the International Space Station. He recently announced a new Starship spacecraft to be used for flights to and from the Moon and Mars space colonies using space nuclear reactors. I am not sure if Space X will be using the SpaceNukes reactors or not. But someone will.

New Mexico has the greatest opportunity to expand its aerospace industry. Along with SpaceNukes, Spaceport America is finally ready to start sub-orbital space fights for the rich and famous. This project took 10 years to develop. Hopefully, the gross receipt taxes on the ticket to ride will offset the sunk cost up until now.

New Mexico is on the cusp of many great economic opportunities, but our politicians have to make sound decisions based on existing experiences, such as stored nuclear fuel. Opposition to HI-STORE CISF, influenced by anti-nuclear advocacy groups, is funded by competitive sources. Even Rod Adams, a historically pro-nuclear fellow, has been compromised. See his open letter to Holtec and supporters (that’s me). I do not believe he has the right message.

Response Letter from Senators Heinrich & Udall, NM

I have been writing a series of letters to the New Mexico’s US Senators, US Reps, NM Governor and NM Legislature. I have gotten very few responses but Senator Heinrich finally sent me this detailed email. Here is his response to me and the letter that he sent to the NRC. He is requesting another delay to the NRC decision because of the Pandemic. What he fails to state is that the NRC has conducted many review sessions directly with the public since 2018, two years now. Most concerns have already been addressed, but still they want to delay until the pandemic has passed. Hopefully that will happen on Nov 4th. 2020.

October 27, 2020

Dear Mr. Kral,

Thank you for contacting me about the management of used nuclear fuel and Holtec International’s proposal to build a Consolidated Interim Storage Facility (CISF) in southeastern New Mexico.  I appreciate knowing your thoughts and concerns on this important issue.

My top priority with any new regulations or projects involving radioactive materials is protecting public health and safety.  As you may know, the nation currently does not have a licensed permanent repository to dispose of used nuclear fuel from commercial power plants or defense-related facilities.  I understand the need for and support establishing a permanent repository for spent nuclear fuel, and the final location of such a permanent repository must be determined through sound scientific reasoning, transparency, and engagement and consent from affected stakeholders.  I have serious concerns about proposals to create a CISF to store nuclear waste when the establishment of a permanent nuclear waste repository still has not been resolved.

 I also believe in the critical importance of public participation in the development of approaches for the safe disposal of radioactive waste.  This importance of public participation is further elevated during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which limits the public’s ability to attend in-person meetings, gather information, and provide input about important issues of concern.  For these reasons, along with Senator Tom Udall (NM), I sent a letter on August 18, 2020, to the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), expressing our  opposition to the NRC’s decision to substitute in-person public meetings about the CISF draft environmental impact statement with remote webinars.  As there are no legal deadlines requiring the NRC to complete its review process by a certain time, the NRC should not rush this process and should pause its timeline for reviewing the CISF license application until such time as the pandemic is under control enough that the NRC can safely and effectively live up to its commitment to provide in-person meetings in New Mexico.The issue of consolidated interim storage of nuclear waste in New Mexico has profound health and safety impacts for citizens of New Mexico, and New Mexicans must be given every opportunity to understand these impacts as well as comment on the NRC’s draft environmental impact statement findings.

Please know that I will continue to monitor this situation closely and will keep your thoughts in mind as I work with my colleagues in the United States Senate to establish a comprehensive, consent-based policy to safely dispose of our nation’s nuclear waste.  Again, thank you for contacting me.  I hope you will continue keeping me informed of the issues important to you.

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United States Senator

Here is the letter to the NRC:

Re-store, Re-cycle, and Re-use Stored Nuclear Fuel:

On May 26, 1958, the first commercial nuclear power plant in the United States, Shippingport Atomic Power Station, was opened by President Dwight D. Eisenhower as part of his Atoms for Peace program. From that very first day, the United States has been producing alleged nuclear waste from more than 100 nuclear power plants across the country. Today there are more than 83,000 tons of this alleged waste stored in dry cask at every site.

While the storage of these casks is perfectly safe as is, the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, a federal law, requires the United States established a comprehensive national program for the safe, permanent disposal of highly radioactive wastes. There are two different types of waste; high-level waste from the weapons programs (mostly plutonium) and spent nuclear fuel (mostly uranium) from the commercial industry. To this day, the US Government has failed to execute this law. Therefore, alleged waste materials are at each nuclear plant site, even the decommissioned sites, and weapons-grade plutonium at DOE storage sites. What is needed is a reactor closed-loop fuel cycle that was never provided by the Nuclear Industry.

Several US companies are developing advanced reactors that will use the store nuclear fuel to implement a final disposition reactor closed-loop cycle of stored fuels without a new fuel waste stream. Three processes can accomplish a closed-loop fuel cycle; consolidate at a central facility, convert from solid fuel to a molten salt fuel, and provide the fuel stream for future advance reactors.

Re-store existing stored spent nuclear fuel (alleged waste):

In 2017, Congress amended the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982. It authorizes the Department of Energy (DOE) to enter into new contracts (or modify existing contracts) with the licensee of an interim consolidated storage facility to take title to and store either high-level weapons-grade fuel or spent fuel (SNF) of domestic origin.

Holtec International and its partner, the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance (ELEA), have launched the licensing of an autonomous consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) in southeastern New Mexico on land owned by ELEA.

HI-STORE CISF satisfies the Federal Government’s long-standing obligation for disposition of used nuclear fuel (SNF) by providing a safe, secure, temporary, retrievable, and centralized storage of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste.

Re-cycle existing solid fuel rods in dry storage at HI-STORE CISF:

There are only two practical options for a permanent solution to SNF: 1) bury it deep in the bowels of the earth forever or 2) recycle it through advanced reactors designed to consume the remaining 100% of the energy still within the spent uranium fuel rods.

Recycling stored nuclear fuel at HI-STORE CISF, the solid fuel rods have to be converted to a molten salt fuel base that is compatible with the molten chloride salt fast reactor. The conversion could occur at HI-STORE CISF as a new facility or the National Labs in New Mexico.

The conversion of the solid fuel rods to liquid requires removing the zirconium cladding (valuable by-product), chopping up the pellets, and throwing them into a vat of molten chloride salt where the non-fuel materials (noble gases and noble metals) separate from the molten salt base of uranium, plutonium, and fission products. The molten salt fuel mixture is cooled and packaged back into the HI-STORE silos awaiting shipment as a Category 1 transport to commercial power plants.

Re-use newly recycled molten nuclear fuel in advanced molten salt reactors:

To use the recycled molten nuclear fuel, a fleet of advanced molten chloride salt fast reactors would have to exist. These reactors will consume 100% of all the energy in the molten salt fuel consisting of all the existing stored fuel sources; spent uranium, natural uranium, depleted uranium, reactor-grade plutonium, weapons-grade plutonium, thorium, and even the fission products. These fast reactors would be continuously fed molten salt fuel during non-stop operation for up to 60 years without ever having to shut down the reactor core. A new reactor core replacement would allow continuation for another 60 or more years using the same fuel, therefore no nuclear waste.

The HI-STORE, Consolidated Interim Storage Facility, is a component to fulfill the Government goal to aggregate the used nuclear fuel canisters presently scattered across the country at dozens of independent used fuel storage installations into one suitable location. This facility is needed to close the nuclear fuel cycle and provide the fuel for advanced molten chloride salt fast reactors and technically eliminate sociopolitical fear of alleged waste.