NARA VISA - A controversial project in eastern New Mexico is put on hold. For now.
Quay county commissioners Monday rescinded approval of a borehole field.
The scientific project was originally approved in October.
Commissioned by the Department of Energy and to be conducted by Enercon, the feasibility study would determine if it would be possible to drill a 16,400 foot hole in granite for the purpose of safely storing nuclear waste. Though no actual nuclear material would be stored there.
Enercon officials were back in eastern New Mexico Monday facing a packed house of Nara Visa citizens and others from the surrounding area.
Project coordinators say much of the opposition to the project is based on misinformation.
They say area residents are fearful that nuclear waste would actually be stored there when it won't.
Public outreach manager for Enercon, Wendy Lambert reiterated that point.
"This is just a research project to see if we can drill that deep. Straight enough and if they can even take cannisters in and out of a deep borehole." Lambert said.
The project's Program Director says they're not allowed to store nuclear waste on the land.
"There's a contract between us and the Department of Energy (DOE) that says repeatedly that there will be no radioactive waste associated with this project or on this property." Mark Eckels said. "There's a lease being drafted with the landowners that has a prohibition against nuclear waste of any kind on their property."
Quay county rancher Ed Hughs said the people in the area aren't afraid of nuclear waste coming to Eastern New Mexico, he says most are certain it will happen.
"Anytime you bring a project like this to a poor community and promise economic benefits, what you're ultimately going to end up with in our opinion, if there's quote good granite down there, ultimately there will be a nuclear waste depository down here." Hughs said.
Hughs says despite federal and New Mexico state laws against using the land for nuclear waste, laws can and do change. He believes that will happen in this case and he's not alone.
One woman at the meeting quoted David Nielsen in a Washington Times article, who is working on the project with Enercon and the DOE.
"It's not over folks" The woman said. "Nielsen said and I quote, you can always figure out a way. The federal government can get around anything. This is not over guys."
One of the selling points for the community was the economic impact the project would've had.
A lot of the work and services would've gone to local suppliers.
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