How do you feel about nuclear waste storage in New Mexico? Now’s your chance to speak up! The WIPP (Waste Isolation Pilot Plant) permit is up for renewal, and the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) is taking public comment until 5:00 MDT on April 19th.
WIPP is dug into a mined salt repository 2,150 feet below ground, just outside of Carlsbad. The site stores nuclear waste shipments from across the country. It’s owned by the Department of Energy (DOE) but operates under a permit from NMED, and it’s that permit that is in question now.
NMED has put forward significant provisions to add common sense regulations around the site, including:
- A requirement that the state receive a report each year on the federal government’s efforts to find a permanent repository in another state
- Automatic permit revocation if Congress changes the law increasing the disposal limit of 6.2 million cubic feet of storage
- Quarterly public forums that provide notice and allow for ample opportunity for public engagement on Permit and non-Permit related issues
For a full reading of the provisions, check out the NMED Fact Sheet.
While we fully support these provisions, further steps can and should be taken, specifically around inclusion of community voices. For many New Mexicans, English is not their first language, and internet access is uncertain at best. For these individuals, many of whom live in frontline communities, the public notice of comment or a hearing only posted on DOE and NMED websites, in English, is not enough. CVNM and allies will continue to advocate for expanded access to critical information.