The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has begun a technical review of a license for an interim storage site for nuclear waste in New Mexico -- and that's a hopeful sign for those fighting to find an alternative to burying spent nuclear fuel 100 feet from the beach at the now-closed San Onofre nuclear plant, in northern San Diego County.
The Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance, a coalition of cities and counties in the southeast corner of New Mexico, is ready and willing to accept nuclear waste — for a price. Holtec, the company that designed the latest waste storage at San Onofre, applied for a license last spring to build an interim storage site on 1,000 acres purchased by the alliance.
Now, the NRC has agreed to consider it.
John Heaton, chair of the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance, said there are more than 30 states around the nation waiting for a safer place to store nuclear waste. Current federal priorities are to move the oldest nuclear waste first. But Heaton said if this license is granted, Holtec, a private company, could have a say in which nuclear waste gets priority, and San Onofre should be high on the list.
“You are on the oceanfront, you are also in a very seismically unstable area, as well as being in a high-density population area,” he said. “Those things, I think, would play into the decision-making about which fuel goes first.”