Senator Jeff Steinborn, D-Dona Ana, Chair of the Radioactive and Hazardous Materials Committee
Air Dates: July 23-25, 2022
This week's guest on REPORT FROM SANTA FE is Senator Jeff Steinborn, D-Dona Ana, Chair of the Radioactive and Hazardous Materials Committee, discussing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's decision to house all of the nation's high-level spent nuclear fuel in New Mexico.
On July 13, 2022 the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) put out a press release detailing its final environmental impact statement for Holtec International's application for a license to build and maintain a nuclear storage facility for high-level spent nuclear fuel in Lea County, New Mexico. The NRC staff recommended issuing the license.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued the following statement after the NRC's announcement: “The NRC has unilaterally decided to house the nation’s spent nuclear fuel in New Mexico, despite the fact that our state has not one nuclear power plant within its borders...The state of New Mexico will not become a dumping ground for the nation’s spent nuclear fuel due to Congress’s failure to identify a permanent disposal solution for commercial nuclear waste. My message to the state Legislature is clear: deliver a proposal to my desk that protects New Mexico from becoming the de facto home of the country’s spent nuclear fuel and it will have my full support.”
Holtec proposes initially to store 500 canisters holding approximately 8,680 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel in a first phase and eventually to store up to 10,000 canisters in an additional 19 phases. The canisters would be transported by rail from operating, decommissioning, and decommissioned commercial nuclear power plants around the country.
Senator Jeff Steinborn, D-Dona Ana, served in the NM House of Representatives from 2007-2010, and then again from 2013-2016. He has served as NM State Senator since 2017. He chairs the Interim Committee on Radioactive and Hazardous Materials, and is also a member of the Senate Finance Committee. During the last legislative Session, he passed an important Uranium Mine Cleanup Bill (SB 89), but his efforts to pass legislation prohibiting the storage of high-level radioactive waste in NM (SB 54, HB 127) were unsuccessful.