With the recent public awareness of the proposed HI-STORE CISF in Southeast New Mexico (SENM) to store spent nuclear fuel (SNF), also known as high level radioactive waste, there has been an enormity amount the misinformation being spewed around. There are a few anti-nuclear environmentalist leading the charge of a lot of what-if’ers. Most of these people are wearing blinders so it will be extremely difficult to change their minds about the reality of radiation based on science verses the fear of radiation based on all the legacy myths since the 1950’s.
It is not often a very successful and well respected international company wants to setup shop in New Mexico without demanding concessions like lengthy tax credits and huge subsidies. Here we have a company that is leading the industry with the best technology for safe and secure nuclear waste storage. Here we have a company with a proven track record not just in the country with the toughest nuclear regulatory laws, but worldwide. Here we have a company without a single safety incident to cause harm to the environment and the health of the surrounding community. And yet, there are those who are vehemently against Holtec International coming to New Mexico for only one reason – fear.
The first thing I want to say is ‘thank you’ to the nuclear industry for saving all the unused nuclear fuel that is considered spent because it went through the nuclear reactor once and cannot be return to the same reactor as nuclear fuel. Then I want to thank Holtec International for taking on the task of developing the technology to store SNF in long term dry cask systems. The US Government has failed the nuclear industry in the US because of foolish policies regarding radiation. This notion that SNF has to be stored in deep repository underground for thousands of years was an extreme reaction to the misunderstanding of radiation following the days of discovering actinides beyond uranium and thorium.
The current nuclear industry has used enriched natural uranium from the earth to manufacture solid nuclear fuel pellets for today’s water cooled reactors for over 70 years and now there are tons of deplete uranium (DU) left from the enrichment process. This DU, along with SNF, could easily power the world for centuries without ever having to mine another ounce if the newer advanced reactors are technically designed to consume it. And that is exactly what is on the horizon with the Elysium Molten Chloride Salt Fast Reactor (MCSFR) and others. These advanced reactors will have the ability to eventually consume the tons of alleged nuclear waste (SNF, DU, and even weapon grade plutonium) with a few pounds of radioactive isotopes leftover to manage.
It only seems natural for New Mexico to expand it nuclear industry with HI-STORE CISF. After all, we already have WIPP (transuranic waste), URENCO (deplete nuclear fuel) and just across the border with Texas, Waste Control Specialist (low-level radioactive waste) that makes up a very narrow nuclear corridor. What is unique about the nuclear storage industry is that its small footprint doesn’t destroy the beauty of the New Mexico landscape with thousands of monstrous windmills and seas of black panels or doesn’t chop up and scar the landscape with thousands of oil wells with their pump jacks every few hundred yards. Now that is a lot of pollution that will have to be dealt with by the next generation of New Mexicans.
Holtec International precedes SNF storage with their Proto-Prompt Decommissioning System. This process allows Holtec to completely decommission a nuclear power plant site within 8 years instead of the 60 years that the NRC allows. A very important component of the PPD system is the availability of an interim storage facility like the proposed HI-STORE CISF in Carlsbad, New Mexico. The funds from each site’s decommissioning trust will be transferred to Holtec upon closing and will be used by Holtec to cover the cost of the decommissioning. The trust fund was established decades ago to pay for decommissioning, and no additional funds from utility customers will be required. What other energy industry does that? None!
Holtec International has acquired contracts to take over the next nuclear power plants destine for closure and decommissioning; Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant in New Jersey, Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, Massachusetts, Palisades Power Plant in Covert, Michigan, and the already decommissioned Big Rock Point Nuclear Power Plant near Charlevoix, Michigan. Holtec will become the owners of the SNF at each of these sites and will completely decontaminate and return the site back to nature with no trace of radiation beyond natural background. For those familiar with Rocky Flats, Colorado, the wild animal life are enjoying their new nature preserve. So are the critters at Chernobyl, where Holtec has an interim storage facility.
Spent nuclear fuel is not nuclear waste. It is the fuel to generate electricity, desalinate saline waters, and provides special isotopes for the medical industry. It also has isotopes used to explore the depth of our oceans and probe the galaxies of our universe. Waste is only waste if it does not have a purpose.
Holtec International, a world leader in the nuclear industry, offers New Mexico the opportunity to generate a steady stream of new revenues and high paying jobs without the burden of new business tax credit (like Facebook) or huge subsidies (like wind and solar). Oil and Gas has been in New Mexico for decades and it has been our cash cow only when it is healthy. For more detail about HoltecInternational.com, visit their web site.