Holtec Plans to Make NM the Nation’s Nuclear Waste Dump Plus Video from Naomi Klein & a Poem from Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Ferlinghetti’s Pity the Nation will send chills through your spine. Prescient. Naomi Klein’s video describes perfectly how the corporatocracy are using disaster to privatize our future, and then there is Holtec. Finally, NM’s chance to be first in something: toxic nuclear waste storage.

The Challenges of Privatization & Stewarding our Land and Natural Resources. At the bottom of the post you will find a 17-minute video featuring Naomi Klein speaking from Puerto Rico. Klein interviews Puerto Rico residents from throughout the island as they try to adjust to Hurricane Maria. She found that in many parts of the country efforts are underway to fight the government, under pressure from the US, to privatize schools, transportation and more. You will learn about how Puerto Rico is utterly dependent upon two crops, sugar and coffee, exported at great profit to the corporations who control those industries. As a result, the vast majority of land is devoted to corporate managed uni-crop endeavors that deplete the soil, enrich the corporations, while forcing Puerto Rico to  import 90% of its food.

The video’s underpinnings are in how the US government and mega corporations use climate emergencies to consolidate power, privatize public sector enterprise, and profit. She compares Puerto Rico to New Orleans where tens of thousands of poor people were never able to return home to allow for market rate housing and where schools were privatized by charter schools. It is a warning for the future, as most of us see climate catastrophe as human catastrophe, while the neo-liberal, capitalist system sees it as just another opportunity for profit.  This is not a dry theory-driven video, but very compelling and worth your time.

This video is one of about 8 that formed the structure and content to module one of Towards Co-operative Commonwealth: Transition In a Perilous Century, an eight week online learning opportunity will expose you to how corporations view climate catastrophe as just another opportunity to profit. It will also afford you an entirely new way of looking at our economic and climate challenges, to also view them,as an opportunity, but not to profit, but to build sustainable, just communities. As we move into Module 2, we will begin to explore Steward Land and Natural Resources for the Common Good, an apt topic given the topic of today’s blog. It is not too late to sign up and you can easily catch up on Module 1 as you have time. But trust, the content is eye-opening and informative. Click here to learn more.  Click here to sign up. For those signed up, yesterday I initiated a discussion around the issues raised in the first module.

Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti is the co-founder of the iconic City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco. Born in 1919, he celebrated his 100th birthday on March 24. This poem will blow your mind for its acuity. Keep in mind he wrote it at age 88. You are never too old to use your skills and energy to raise your voice.

Pity The Nation

Pity the nation whose people are sheep,
and whose shepherds mislead them.
Pity the nation whose leaders are liars, whose sages are silenced,
and whose bigots haunt the airwaves.
Pity the nation that raises not its voice,
except to praise conquerors and acclaim the bully as hero
and aims to rule the world with force and by torture.
Pity the nation that knows no other language but its own
and no other culture but its own.
Pity the nation whose breath is money
and sleeps the sleep of the too well fed.
Pity the nation — oh, pity the people who allow their rights to erode
and their freedoms to be washed away.
My country, tears of thee, sweet land of liberty.”

Wow. Just Wow. He wrote this in 2007, almost a decade before Trump. We should listen more closely to our canaries in the coal mine that is our Nation or what we reap will be more Trump, more methane, more nuclear waste, more wealth inequity, more racial injustice, and the absence of power and freedom to raise our voices in opposition to the shuttering of our future.

Holtec-US Government Plan Expanded Nuclear Waste Dump in NM & the Lack of Serious Controls is Shocking

 Much of the analysis in the story below came from Susan Gordan, Multicultrual Alliance for a Safe Environment, Linda Evers, Post 71 Uranium Workers Committee, Candace Head-Dylla, Bluewater Valley Downstream Alliance, Edith Hood, Red Water Pond Road Community Association, Petuuche Gilbert, Laguna Acoma Coalition for a Safe Environment, and Larry King, Eastern Navajo Dine Against Uranium Mining and a report from the ABQ Journal North..


Most of us would have preferred our never turning to nuclear reactors for energy; many of us decades ago protested their introduction, as a “cheap, clean, affordable source of energy.” Most of us understood that at some point, someone would have to pay the piper. Who knew it would be New Mexico? New Mexico is poised to become the nuclear waste dump for the United States. Lucky us.

The Energy Department is planning to change long-standing classifications of high-level nuclear waste in order to find cheaper ways to address legacy waste. The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), is located 23 miles from Carlsbad and the Energy Dept has worked to gain approval to change the way they measure the amount of waste allowed so the government can bring even more transuranic waste to NM and to expand the kinds of contaminants to be shipped.. There are attempts to bring additional contaminants to WIPP that are outside of the original agreements made with the state.

With the proposed Consolidated Interim Storage (CIS) site in the works for Eddy and Lea counties, NM is being afforded yet another opportunity to become the holding facility for high-level nuclear waste from reactor sites across the U.S. for up to 120 years.  This is the definition of a sacrifice zone. We are a poor state. Lea and Eddy County are very poor, they need jobs, and so they are vulnerable to the “opportunities” to become the nations nuclear waste dump.

The state of New Mexico has not conducted any serious environmental review of the project proposed by the Holtec Corporation. Some red flags identified by the coalition above include:

  • “Holtec has no plan for repairing leaking canisters on-site or along the transport routes. They told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that they would return all leaking canisters to the sender. [Oh, great, leaking cannisters being shipped interstate, but surely there will be a plan…..]
  • Transport by rail, barge or highway across 38 states could begin without any uniform plans for accidents along the way. (High winds derailed a train on the high desert plains near Logan, a town of about 1,000 residents. New Mexico State Police photos of the derailment showed shattered train cars scattered across a mostly dry riverbed.)
  • There is no plan to inspect or replace storage canisters that are damaged at the reactor sites or subjected to corrosive elements in the atmosphere or ground beneath them, and it may not be safe to try. No usable technology currently exists to monitor the spent fuel canisters once they have been emplaced in storage containers.
  • A privately owned and operated enterprise cannot guarantee that there will be no safety lapses or releases over an accumulated licensing period of 120 years, or even during the first 20 years in above-ground storage.”

You can’t make this up.  As bad as the above is, it is still worse given that there are alternative remedies that include storing the existing high-level nuclear waste in sturdier thick-walled steel canisters that can be safely inspected for damage and repackaged, and keep them at the reactor sites until a permanent repository is built.  But where is the profit in that?  Reactor operators are eager to wash their hands of the waste and Hotec is eager to profit from doing just that.

While checking on the lifespan of Holtec’s storage canisters, the coalition abovel found out that “neither Holtec nor the NRC is willing to look at cask integrity beyond a 20-year licensing period. This is frightening news considering that untreated spent nuclear fuel must be isolated from air, water and humans for hundreds of thousands of years. Damaged thin-walled canisters are already in place at nuclear reactor sites, such as San Onofre in California, placing nearby residents and Pacific coastal communities at risk, not to mention accidental releases to ocean waters. Risking the possibility of more damage while removing them from their current storage site is unnecessary, and transporting these damaged containers to New Mexico magnifies the risks of accidental releases exponentially.”

I’ll be honest, I don’t know yet what the action is here, but it seems that NM has done more than enough for the nuclear age. Stay tuned.

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne

Clearly there is a national effort underway to maximize profit from catastrophes, or as per above, from the storage of legacy nuclear waste. This video plays out precisely how this effort has played out in New Orleans (Katrina) and now in Puerto Rico (Maria).  Very worth your time.

Categories: Climate Change, Agriculture, Land Use & Wildlife

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5 replies

  1. And Ferlinghetti just turned 100 years old!

  2. The Ferlinghetti poem has had an honored place for several years–taped to the wall above my computer. Glad he made it to 100 and hope he’s in reasonably good shape.

  3. Maybe we need to get a moratorium on all of it. It is really clear that companies like Holtec, plan to take advantage of the current federal administrations, willingness to look the other way or allow corruption. The Boeing crashes should have been wake up call, an example of regulatory capture and the abject failure of corporations to police themselves.

    New Mexico has already had one costly Nuclear Accident. https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2014/05/23/315279895/organic-kitty-litter-chief-suspect-in-nuclear-waste-accident This was not really an accident, it is what happens when private industry cuts corners, and tries to increase corporate profits. It must have been less expensive to hire a non scientist for the decision making process.

    This is not an accident, it is how Neo Liberalism works, and of course they downplay or hide the negative effects. A young man died while working at the Convention Center, right here in Santa Fe. Another example of cutting corners, to save money. That young many was not a licensed electrician, they are expensive, and trained to avoid electrocution. We see the same thing everywhere, from CYFD. where they cut corners, because people with degrees, licenses, and expertise are expensive.


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