In a letter sent to President Trump on September 30, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott expressed his opposition to two proposed consolidated interim storage facilities for spent nuclear fuel that are currently under review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Abbott is opposing Interim Storage Partner’s (ISP) interim storage facility in West Texas and Holtec International’s planned facility in New Mexico, near the Texas border, claiming that the facilities will put U.S. energy security at risk by being sited within the oil-producing region of the Permian Basin.
Abbott also said that he was opposed to increasing the amount of radioactive waste permitted to be disposed of in Texas without state approval. In April 2019, Abbott wrote to the Department of Energy and the NRC expressing his objections to federal actions that could allow Waste Control Specialists (WCS) to accept greater-than-Class C waste at its disposal site in Andrews County, Texas. ISP is a joint venture of WCS and Orano USA.
Quote: “Because of the many risks associated with these projects, the lack of a permanent storage facility, and the importance of the Permian Basin to the economy and energy security of the country, I respectfully urge you to join me in opposing the siting of an interim storage facility in Texas or New Mexico,” Abbott wrote in the letter.
NRC review: ISP’s license application for its proposed storage facility, submitted to the NRC in June 2018, is currently under review by the agency, which issued a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the facility in May of this year. Because of the COVID-19 health emergency, the comment period for the NRC’s environmental review was extended from September 4 to November 3. The ISP facility would be located adjacent to WCS’s disposal facility for hazardous and low-level radioactive waste.
The NRC is also in the middle of an environmental review of Holtec’s proposed facility, having published a draft EIS for the facility in March of this year. The comment period for Holtec’s draft EIS ended on September 22, after being extended twice because of COVID-19. Holtec submitted its license application to the NRC in March 2017. The storage facility would be located between Carlsbad and Hobbs, N.M., about 40 miles from the Texas border.