Itemized response to Kim Fitzsimmons opinion piece in the ABQ Journal. The original article is displayed below:
1) SENM’s O&G, Nuclear, Farming and Tourism are all making billions of dollar for schools and social programs to benefit all residents of NM.
2) Holtec did not buy 32 acres of land in SENM. ELEA owns 1,000 acres in Lea County for the proposed HI-STORE CISF site.
3) The initial license request from Holtec with the NRC is for 40 years and 500 canisters with priority to decommissioned NPP across the US.
4) Future amendments to the license could see additional canisters up to 10,000.
5) The site is ~35 miles due east of Carlsbad and ~15 miles due northeast of WIPP.
6) In 2014, a minor leak with no health or environment issues caused the WIPP plant to reassess it’s safety culture and has resumed operation in 2017 after decontamination. WIPP also added another ventilation system so they can mine for salt and manage waste storage at the same time.
7) In 2006, Humboldt Bay, CA became the first plant to feature HI-STORM UMAX subterranean storage. Humboldt just experience a 5.6 earthquake Saturday night (6/22/19). No damage.
8) Southern California Edison’s San Onofre nuclear plant selected a seismically hardened version of the HI-STORM UMAX in 2014 after the State of California ordered the plant shuttered and decommissioned for political reasons. Holtec was not involved in the shutter of SONGS.
9) One of the fears by anti-fossil lobby groups is that frac’ing causes small earthquakes in the 2.5 seismic range and with no damage at the surface. Extraction of oil and gas does alter the pressures below ground level but so does extraction of water for farm irrigation.
10) O&G drilling uses produced water (recycled) for the frac’ing process. O&G uses ~1% of the total fresh water capacity of New Mexico. When oil prices reach $100, desalinated saline water is affordable.
11) The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved the transfer of the Oyster Creek Generating Station operating license from Exelon Generation to Holtec International, including the stored nuclear fuel. Holtec is also acquiring Indian Point, Palisades and Pilgrim nuclear units, including the independent spent fuel storage facility located at Big Rock Point in Iowa.
Here is the original article from the Albuquerque Journal:
A fracked ‘Nuclear Alley’ scarier than aliens
By Kim Fitzsimmons / Roswell Resident
Saturday, June 22nd, 2019 at 12:02am
Two powerful forces have landed in southeastern N.M. No, much worse than extraterrestrials. Nuclear waste disposal and drilling companies see us as prime real estate worth billions of dollars.
“Nuclear Alley” is known by the residents of Hobbs, Carlsbad, Eunice, Loving and Jal. In 2015, Holtec International bought 32 acres near Carlsbad for the storage of 173,000 British metric tons of nuclear waste for 20 years. A British “metric ton” adds 200 lbs more per ton than the standard U.S. measurement of 2,000 lbs. The Holtec site plans to store radioactive material 15 miles from the WIPP site. WIPP, the Waste Isolation Power Plant, is operating despite a 2014 radiation leak closing the plant for three years. Near Eunice, a Urenco uranium enrichment plant now operates a $4 billion waste site only 12 miles north of WIPP.
(According to Sanonofresafety.org, a website highly critical of Holtec operations in California), Holtec’s radiation storage canisters weigh up to 100,000 pounds with a thickness of 5/8 of an inch. Many countries store waste in thick-walled, bolted-lid metal casks 10 to 20 inches thick, the standard in most of the world, except the U.S. In 2012, the California San Onofre nuclear power plant closed due to faulty Holtec containers. Steam generators from 2011 showed premature wear on over 3,000 tubes, in 15,000 places. In 2018, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission concluded every Holtec canister downloaded into the storage holes was damaged due to inadequate clearance between the canister and the divider shell in the storage hole (vault). The NRC states that canister walls are already “worn.” This results in cracks. Once cracks start, they continue to grow through the wall.
ExxonMobil, Chevron and Occidental Petroleum are among many companies that use “fracking” when drilling. Fracking increases the risk of earthquakes because highly pressurised wastewater and chemicals are blasted underground, creating unstable fissures. A U.S. Geographical Survey noted increased dramatic earthquake changes in 17 U.S. zones, including southeastern N.M., which are in “particular danger from an increased number of what it calls ‘induced’ quakes where wastewater injection increases the underground pore pressure, which may lubricate nearby faults, thereby making earthquakes more likely to occur.”
Our precious Pecos River flows near these drilling sites. Fracking of one well consumes 3-6 million gallons of water. In water-starved southeastern N.M. and the Permian Basin, over 103,000 wells now require 500 million gallons of water to drill. After fracking, millions more gallons of toxic wastewater is generated and has to be disposed of before our drinking water and land is destroyed.
Radioactive storage and big oil have been very generous with their money in Santa Fe, convincing elected leaders to turn our southeastern backyard into a toxic soup of fracked wells, wastewater and radioactive leaks. Visitors will avoid entering “Nuclear Alley,” realizing the dangers of exposure to this waste. Bye-bye to tourists who want to visit Carlsbad Caverns and other attractions here.
It may be too late. Holtec has cemented its foothold here by buying over 30 acres for radioactive storage. The very profitable oil/gas drilling companies are firmly entrenched in N.M. I would welcome extraterrestrials any day over them.