Beyond Nuclear Vows to Fight on Against High-Level Radioactive Waste Dumps Targeting Permian Basin

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Contact: Kevin Kamps, Radioactive Waste Specialist, Beyond Nuclear, (240) 462-3216, [email protected]

Beyond Nuclear Vows to Fight on Against High-Level Radioactive Waste Dumps Targeting Permian Basin

D.C. Circuit Court Ruling in ISP, TX Separate and Distinct from Holtec, NM Case

The Permian Basin and Washington, D.C., January 25, 2023–

Today, a U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit three-judge panel denied all parties, and dismissed all objections, opposing a high-level radioactive waste consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) proposed by Interim Storage Partners, LLC (ISP), at Waste Control Specialists, LLC in Andrews County, Texas. (The ruling is posted online here: <>. A PDF copy of the ruling can also be emailed to you upon request to [email protected].)

The ISP CISF, if constructed and operated, would store up to 40,000 metric tons of commercial irradiated nuclear fuel and other highly radioactive wastes from the nuclear power industry, just less than half of what currently exists in the country.

A second proposed CISF, Holtec International’s in southeastern New Mexico, would be located just over 40 miles from the ISP site. Holtec’s CISF in NM would store up to 173,600 metric tons of commercial irradiated nuclear fuel and highly radioactive Greater-Than-Class-C “low-level” waste, nearly twice the amount that currently exists in the U.S.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved the license for ISP in TX in September 2021. The agency just announced its approval of the Holtec license in NM could happen as early as March 2023.

“While we’re disappointed that the Court of Appeals focused on a procedural technicality in its recent judgment, that technicality is not at issue in the companion Holtec case, where we raised the same claim: that the NRC cannot issue a license with an unlawful provision authorizing federal ownership of privately generated nuclear waste,” said Diane Curran, Beyond Nuclear’s co-legal counsel in both CISF appeals.

“We look forward to the opportunity to reappear before the Court of Appeals to discuss the merits of our claim,” added Mindy Goldstein, Curran’s co-counsel to Beyond Nuclear and director of the Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Georgia.

Other parties opposed to ISP’s CISF similarly had their federal appeals rejected by the D.C. Circuit Court today. They include: Don’t Waste Michigan et al., a six-organization and one-individual national grassroots environmental coalition, represented by attorney Terry Lodge of Toledo, Ohio; Sierra Club; represented by Wally Taylor of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Fasken Land and Minerals, Ltd. and Permian Basin Land and Royalty Owners (PBLRO), represented by Kanner & Whiteley of New Orleans, Louisiana.

Also in the ISP case, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans has yet to rule on challenges brought by the State of Texas, as well as Fasken/PBLRO. Oral arguments, held several months ago, focused on the “major questions doctrine” in light of the recently published U.S. Supreme Court ruling in West Virginia versus EPA. To the point, does NRC have the explicit authority from Congress to license a CISF such as ISP in TX?

And finally in the ISP case, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver also has yet to rule on challenges brought by the State of New Mexico against the CISF. The ISP CISF would be located just 0.37 miles from the state line of New Mexico. The direction of water flow from the ISP CISF is into NM, and the nearest town is Eunice, NM, a largely Hispanic American community just several miles away. In fact, every single shipment of highly radioactive waste bound for ISP would pass through Eunice, NM on the rail line, in order to get there.

The same parties challenging the ISP CISF are also challenging the Holtec CISF, in the same various U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals, respectively. As soon as NRC approves the Holtec CISF license, those federal appeals — long held in abeyance — will also be ripe for judicial consideration.

Questions of environmental justice swirl around these CISF schemes. New Mexico, a majority minority state (that is, the Latinx and Indigenous populations represent a majority of the state’s population), already bears a disproportionate burden of nuclear and fossil fuel pollution. One stretch of railway, from El Paso to Monahans in West Texas, that would be used to haul high-level radioactive waste to the CISFs has a neighboring population that is 92% Hispanic.

See a map of likely transport routes to the Texas CISF, posted at <>. Also posted there is a four-minute video, “Nuclear Waste & Environmental Justice,” about the EJ burdens of radioactive waste dumps, including the associated transportation there. The video features Mustafa Ali of National Wildlife Federation, formerly President Obama’s head of EJ at EPA.


Beyond Nuclear is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership organization. Beyond Nuclear aims to educate and activate the public about the connections between nuclear power and nuclear weapons and the need to abolish both to safeguard our future. Beyond Nuclear advocates for an energy future that is sustainable, benign and democratic. The Beyond Nuclear team works with diverse partners and allies to provide the public, government officials, and the media with the critical information necessary to move humanity toward a world beyond nuclear. Beyond Nuclear: 7304 Carroll Avenue, #182, Takoma Park, MD 20912. [email protected].


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