Las Cruces Spreads Holtec Hysteria

Pols in the City of the Crosses have joined their brethren in Bernalillo County and Albuquerque, and wasted taxpayers’ time and resources to scaremonger about Holtec International’s plan to construct a consolidated interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel in southeast New Mexico. At a special meeting Monday night, all six Las Cruces city councilors, and the mayor, voted to “formally oppose a proposal to build a nuclear waste storage facility near Carlsbad.”

As toothless, eco-alarmist virtue signaling, the resolution is fabulous. But its connection to reality-based science and engineering is nonexistent. For example, the resolution claims that “exposure to spent nuclear fuel … can be fatal or lead to birth defect [sic], genetic damage, and various kinds of cancer.” True, technically, but essentially irrelevant. It’s not as if used fuel rods from nuclear reactors are shipped without heavy shielding. As the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission explains:

Casks are evaluated for their ability to withstand vibration, water spray, free fall, stacking, penetration and fire. A cask must be able to contain and shield the spent fuel and keep it in a safe configuration under both normal and accident conditions. Typically, spent fuel casks are certified through a combination of engineering analyses and scale model or component testing.

Councilor Yvonne Flores is worried about “the potential for human error,” and predicted that there “will be accidents.” Again, back in Reality World, things are much different. A 2016 analysis prepared for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Nuclear Fuels Storage and Transportation Planning Project found that at least “25,400 shipments of [spent nuclear fuel] have been made worldwide, but likely more than 44,400,” with “all of these shipments … undertaken without any injury or loss of life caused by the radioactive nature of the material transported.”

The media are peddling the notion that “outcry over a proposed temporary waste storage site in southeastern New Mexico is growing,” but it’s important to note that before the Big Green Money Machine launched its anti-Holtec offensive, the facility was far from “controversial.” In fact, two years ago, both chambers of the New Mexico Legislature passed memorials supporting the proposal. In the Senate, the endorsement was approved 27-10, with even the far-left Jerry Ortiz y Pino on board. In the House, the vote went 50-17, with Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard — a Democrat with a better-than-even chance of becoming the next New Mexico Commissioner of Public Lands — voting “yes.”

Eco-hysteria works to win votes, garner campaign contributions, and energize volunteers. As economic development, it’s a loser — and as we’ve seen with Holtec and many other potential investments, junk-science-driven NIMBYism is a significant impediment to strengthening, and diversifying, New Mexico’s economy.

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