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Otero County, New Mexico not supporting waste plan.

County Commissioners were not in support of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) proposed project to dispose radioactive waste in Otero County at their latest county commission meeting.

The proposed DOE project was to be located at the Dugger place in southeast Otero County. The plan for the site was to build a self-sustainable town on that property.

During the experimental phase, there would be 40 people working there; approximately 20 scientists from Los Alamos and 20 local hires from Otero County. The experimental phase was expected to last two years. After that point, based on the evidence collected, it would be determined if this method is a feasible alternative for disposal and whether the site would be suitable for a larger permanent facility.

County Commissioner Ronny Rardin was the first commissioner to speak out against the project. Rardin said he does not want to see Otero County turned into a toxic waste dump for a myriad of reasons but most importantly because it could have negative effects to the environment.

"Is this what we want to turn our county into? Our county sits on natural resources of mining more than any other county in this whole state and we won't let them go out and mine, but we're going to let them bring nuclear waste into Otero County? I for one say absolutely no way. I'm not for it and I'm not against it," Rardin said.

DOE is in the process of evaluating different sites for the project in case one of the sites backs out. The site that was previously chosen was ruled out because of the lack of county commission and state support in South Dakota.

According to DOE, the site in Otero County already has the support of the State of New Mexico, the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED), the New Mexico Economic Development Department (NMEDD) and all three New Mexico Congressmen including Congressman Steve Pearce.

All have sent letters in support to the Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. Pearce has worked directly with Moniz promoting this site. However, DOE is hesitant to choose any site that does not have the support of the county through the county commission.

County Commissioner Janet White said she would not vote for this until she has full support from her district but her personal opinion is that she would not like to see Otero County be jeopardized in any way.

County Commissioners and County Attorney Lisa Jenkins came to the agreement that they would write a letter to the Secretary of Energy stating that they take no position on the matter because they protect private property rights.

Source: Jacqueline Devine, Alamogordo Daily News

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Publication:Nuclear Waste News
Geographic Code:1U8NM
Date:Jun 3, 2016
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