Senators Udall, Heinrich Statements on Proposed Interim Nuclear Waste Facility in New Mexico

U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich issued the following statements on the Governor’s proposal for New Mexico to become an interim storage site for high-level nuclear waste:

“I don’t think we should be talking about this at all while the state and the Department of Energy are still addressing the serious accident and radiation release at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. I have helped secure hundreds of millions in vital funding for WIPP for many years, and my focus now is ensuring WIPP can reopen safely and the workers are protected,” said Udall, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “Several aspects of this proposal concern me. No matter where it’s built, I will not support an interim disposal site without a plan for permanent disposal — whether the site is in southeastern New Mexico or anywhere else in the country — because that nuclear waste could be orphaned there indefinitely. When WIPP opened, New Mexicans understood that we were making our contribution to helping solve the storage problem. I was among the people fighting to ensure the law authorizing WIPP prohibited high level waste there, so any future nuclear waste mission in New Mexico would need broad support throughout the state before I would consider supporting it.”

“Southeastern New Mexico should be commended for its leadership in the nuclear industry, including being home to LES and WIPP, the nation’s only deep geologic repository for transuranic nuclear weapons waste and an integral part of the environmental clean-up of Cold War programs at Department of Energy defense sites,” said Heinrich, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “But we can’t put the cart before the horse. I cannot support establishing an interim storage facility until we are sure there will be a path forward to permanent disposal. There must be an open and transparent process that allows for input on what’s best for our entire state.”