Federal appeals court nixes license for nuclear storage site

Federal appeals court nixes license for nuclear storage site

A controversial proposal for a temporary nuclear storage site in southern New Mexico was shot down by a federal appeals court.

LEA COUNTY, N.M. — A federal appeals court has shot down a license for a proposed site of a temporary nuclear storage facility in southern New Mexico.

A three-person panel in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Holtec the license for the site. They ruled the Nuclear Regulatory Commission couldn’t grant a license for private storage away from nuclear power plants until a permanent repository is established.

The United States has no such permanent site for nuclear waste. It scrapped plans for Nevada’s Yucca Mountain in 2010 and no alternate sites are in the works.

Because of that, officials in New Mexico worry the proposed interim waste site in Lea County will turn into that permanent site.

A few months before the federal government issued Holtec the license last year, the governor signed a law stopping the project. More specifically, the law prohibits state agencies from issuing permits for nuclear waste storage.

Not everyone in New Mexico has been against it, however. Eddy and Lea counties, along with Hobbs and Carlsbad city councils, formed a group to bring Holtec to New Mexico.