Will Otero County, New Mexico, Become The Nation's High Level
Nuclear Waste Dump?
The Department of Energy’s
Salt Basin Deep Borehole Research Project
is all about radioactive waste disposal.
DOE Public Meetings Are Over
Ask questions and SPEAK UP or the DOE will assume you consent. See my “Who Do You Call” page for contacts (HERE)
Otero County Commissioner Lori Bies was ask about her position on the Commissions proposed “non-support” resolution (It did not pass):
“If, in fact, this location is not the chosen sight, we put ourselves in a position where the property owner and come back on the county and then we have another litigation situation”
Salt Basin Deep Borehole Research Project, What’s to know?
– What are deep boreholes used for?
– Private property rights.
– Nuclear waste. Bomb making and nuclear power “spent” fuel.
– Nuclear waste dumping.
– DOE (Department of Defense) who are they?
– Other places that DOE has tried to dump.
What are DOE Deep Boreholes to be used for?
Keep in mind that the project is an experiment. No one, I mean no one, knows what may happen.
The Deep Borehole idea was born in the 1950s as a way to dispose of radioactive waste. It is all about nuclear waste disposal. The waste is very “hot” both thermally and radiation wise, and there is a lot of it, and it remains “Hot” in some cases for over 200,000 years. Thermal considerations are important too, For example the Hanford capsules are presently kept in 122 F water to prevent temperature damage. The water must be constantly cooled to 122F. 1,900 of these capsules are at Hanford, WA (They are a result of nuclear weapons manufacturing). They present a real threat to the environment. Just one example!
No one knows how to safely dispose of bomb waste and the “spent” fuel piling up at the nuclear power plants. Spent fuel is actually very radioactive and thermally hot. No nuclear power generating State wants radioactive disposal in their back yard.
So a couple of ideas were kicked around for getting this dangerous stuff away from (important) people. WIPP and the Yucca Mountain repositories were two ideas (not discussed here). They were located away from important people, in very isolated, rural areas. Another idea was a deep, deep hole into the edge of the earth's crust where the radioactive material could be dumped. Naturally the hole must be sealed, stable and have no migration to the surface (by water or anything else). Keep in mind that the time frames are very hard to understand – 200,000 years or more. Name something mankind has that will last that long (no don't count the nuclear waste!).
Deep Boreholes are about radioactive waste disposal, not geothermal energy or science. The idea is to drill a hole about 17” in diameter three miles deep into (hopefully) solid rock. Move the waste to the hole. Process the waste into capsules. Place the waste down the hole and then seal the hole and hope there are no earth quakes or volcanic eruptions or ?? for 200,000+ years. What could possibly go wrong?
These holes are steel cased but concern about sealing is real. For example a steel casing will disappear over a long time due to corrosion, and leave a pathway from the super radioactive waste to the surface or to the ground water. Sealing is a big issue.
Sandia Labs and others have proposed a field of some 950 deep bore holes to dispose of existing spent nuclear fuel (with another couple wells needed each year). Boreholes for weapons waste disposal would add to that. Spacing would be about 200 yards between holes. An area of 10 - 20 sections should take care of a national waste dump (wild guess). The site would have to isolated, rural and controllable. Know any places like that?
The "Salt Basin Deep Borehole Research Project" is the “first” step to see if dumping this waste is practical. If the test shows SE Otero County has perfect geology for radioactive nuclear waste will DOE then go to Nevada or Ohio to drill another $30,000,000+ deep hole (that may not work), and then dispose of nuclear waste in Nevada or Ohio? Or will they come to a proven area, rural, isolated Southeastern Otero County, and drill and dump here?
Who really believes that DOE will spend $30,000,000, find a proven site, and not move nearby to dump nuclear waste? The land below Pinion meets all DOE criteria. Will it be the next dump?
There is something "fishy" about what we are being told about the Borehole. The Department of Energy (DOE) proposes to spend $30,000,000 for two holes. We are told that these holes will be to test out the concept of nuclear waste disposal and will show if the geology is suitable for nuclear waste. Once completed we are supposed to believe that DOE will then go elsewhere, maybe to Ohio or Nevada or Kansas, and drill another $30,000,000 "test" hole to see if the rock is good there and then dump radioactive waste in Ohio or Nevada or Kansas?
Really? Does that seem reasonable?
Here is what actually is going on. DOE will drill and test. Maybe plug that test hole. If things are good for a nuclear dump they will buy, or take, nearby land (eminent domain if necessary) and drill a field of boreholes for a nuclear waste dump. The Sandia Laboratories plans (HERE) show about 950 boreholes are likely. MIT plans HERE. This saves DOE a cool $30,000,000. MORE important it saves them many years of time. A new borehole in Ohio or Nevada will take several years (probably over 5 years (if allowed at all)) to permit and bring in, and then it might turn out to be poor geology! If Otero County has good rock we'll be “it”.
Their argument is if this project succeeds, that doesn't mean nuclear waste will come to our community. The question is where will it go? WHO wants nuclear waste disposed of near them? Answer; “No one”. If you look at this from the federal government's point of view this is the perfect location. Geologically ideal & sparsely populated. There's a reason this same project was rejected in Rugby, ND, Spink County, SD and Quay county NM.
Private property (can we say “NO”)
The "Salt Basin Deep Borehole Research Project" is located on private property. We should not infringe on property rights. The Department of Energy is asking “the community” to “consent” to the project. Refusing to consent does NOT harm private property rights. It is everyone’s right to have an opinion. DOE would have you believe saying “no” affects private property rights – wrong. We are not passing a law or regulation forbidding drilling the borehole! We are saying we just don't support it.
DOE, Nuclear Waste and Rural Dumps
Dangerous to people for, in some cases 100 of thousands of years, military bomb making has made thousands of tons of radioactive waste. Places such as Hanford, WA have tons of materials that must be moved to a disposal site (because of leaks and deals made with Washington State). There are several weapons labs in the same condition. Nuclear power plants in the East, Midwest and West Coast generate tons of highly radioactive “spent” fuel every year. With no disposal available the DOE allows the material to pile up at the power plant. None of the power making States want this radioactive waste disposed of in their backyard. They have sued the DOE to remove the waste. DOE is paying billions in settlements.
DOE had a waste repository in Nevada. Mr. Obama and Senator Reid caused the Nevada repository to be mothballed in 2011 (Yucca Mountain). Now DOE needs to do something about nuclear waste.
DOE used to be the Atomic Energy Commission. They were (are) charged with promoting nuclear power and aiding the nuclear power industry. They subsidize nuclear power by agreeing to take charge of nuclear waste and disposing of it somewhere. They also work with the military weapons labs (Sandia, Los Alamos, Hanford, Savanna River Site, etc) to take responsibility of bomb / lab radioactive waste. There is considerable pressure to dump waste somewhere. DOE runs the WIPP site and DOE contractors are responsible for the WIPP accident. DOE has a reputation for not honoring contracts and for not properly managing contractors (and thereby putting the local communities in jeopardy). See citations below.
DOE claims that the local community must “consent” before they will go forward with "Salt Basin Deep Borehole Research Project". Sounds good, right? But DOE has not defined what “consent” means. They have not revealed “who” will count consent. In Otero County, DOE has been polling county residents even before they have held community meetings and before they have an information website available (the website is still not up). Looks like the are stacking the deck.
All other communities approached for a borehole have not consented (except a Texas site on a Texas university site which has not weighed in). These include communities in North Dakota, South Dakota and New Mexico (Quay)
DOE has the power to condemn and take land. The Federal Government has a long history of taking property in Otero County. See the “Feds Take from Otero” page
If they drill this hole nuclear waste will come !!