Southeast New Mexico’s Nuclear Corridor

DU Canisters

Depleted uranium canisters in storage

John Heaton, a former New Mexico state representative, made a presentation entitled SE NM’s Nuclear Corridor: Now and Future on June 12th, 2012 to the NRC’s Fuel Cycle Information Exchange (FCIX). During the presentation he discussed sites in the “corridor” (WIPP, URENCO and WCS) as well as sites and changes he hoped would come to the corridor in the future. These included the International Isotopes site that would dovetail with the URENCO site (and which he admitted was “embroiled in political chaos”), the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance Interim Storage Site (for spent fuel and other possible future uses) and the addition of disposing defense high-level waste at WIPP.

According to Mr. Heaton, who was the energy development coordinator for Carlsbad, New Mexico, there were plans to submit an application to NRC by March of 2013 for the interim storage site after passing enabling legislation at the end of 2012. This would allow approval by the NRC in 2016.

WIPP

The WIPP site in southeastern New Mexico

The Alliance wais also hoping to expand WIPP’s mission by disposing Defense High Level Waste there. This waste (spent fuel from nuclear power plants) is currently prohibited at WIPP.

Other FCIX presentations are also available on the NRC’s Fuel Cycle Information Exchange page.


Comments

Southeast New Mexico’s Nuclear Corridor — 2 Comments

  1. Please read the whole question. I know it’s long but okay, so America tested the nuclear bomb at Trinity the code name of the first nuclear weapons test of an atomic bomb. This test was conducted by the United States Army on July 16, 1945, in the Jornada del Muerto desert about 35 miles (56 km) southeast of Socorro, New Mexico, at the White Sands Proving Ground, now the White Sands Missile Range. So how come isn’t it radioactive? People can visit there? Where they bombed the Japanese they can’t go cuz it’s radioactive?

    • At Trinity the majority of the radioactivity was carried by winds and distributed downwind of the site–as is shown on the New Mexico map on the Maps Page. The intense heat of the explosion (the Gadget was suspended from a tower, and not detonated at ground level) fused the ground surface sand together into a solid called Trinitite. Most of the Trinitite was bulldozed and buried in 1952 by the AEC. When people visit the site their time is limited because there is residual radioactivity. Visitors have picked up hunks of Trinitite and most has now been scavenged. The apologists see no threat to public health (Wikipedia describes Trinitite as “mildly radioactive, …safe to handle”) but the accepted scientific view is that there are no safe doses of ionizing radiation.

      With respect to the radioactivity in Hiroshima, again, that was an air explosion, so fallout moved away from the area on the winds, though people experienced a black rain that was heavily laced with radioactive particles (rain triggered by the explosion that hurled dust into the air which provided condensation nuclei for rain drops). Probably most of the contaminated city soil was bulldozed up years ago and hauled away for burial. It cannot be left in place since perhaps a few hundred years would be needed for it to be close to livable–and even after that time the risk is not zero. They certainly have been doing earth removal at Fukushima: paving over school playgrounds, parking lots etc. where contamination was bad. It amounts to a huge earthmoving exercise to bring soil and the environment back to a livable condition.

      Around Chernobyl in 2004 there were clean areas mixed in with highly radioactive spots. You walked around with a radmeter to check grass (especially) that was unbelievably hot 20 years after the accident. Don’t sit there!! But closer to the reactor the first thing they did was bury soil. There was an area several football fields in size that was a graveyard full of helicopters, trucks and all sorts of army equipment that all had to be abandoned due to radiation contamination–perhaps several thousand abandoned vehicles. Nuclear weapons and nuclear power are one of a handfull of technologies where, although the risk of accident is small, the consequences are just totally off the charts.

      Thanks to Cathie Sullivan for this information

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