This year, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved a 40-year license for a private company, Holtec International, to build a facility between Hobbs and Carlsbad that would store nuclear waste from power plants the company is decommissioning in states from New Jersey to California. New Mexico already stores transuranic waste from nuclear weapons production in the salt caverns at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant or WIPP.  

This project would be different, and would eventually hold up to 10,000 canisters, with each canister holding 8,680 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel from commercial power plants.

The New Mexico State Legislature passed Senate Bill 53 this year, which would prohibit state agencies from issuing permits, contracts or leases for the facility—unless the state approves the facility or the federal government moves forward with a permanent storage spot for the nation's commercial nuclear waste.  

On this special episode of Our Land, hear from John Heaton, a former New Mexico state representative who works with Holtec; Sen. Jeff Steinborn, the sponsor of Senate Bill 53; and Dr. Myrriah Gómez, a professor at the University of New Mexico and the author of "Nuclear Nuevo México: Colonialism and the Effects of the Nuclear Industrial Complex on Nuevomexicanos.” 

NMiF airs on NMPBS 5.1 (KNME HD) Friday, Aug. 25 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 27 at 7 a.m., and streaming on the PBS video app.    

Laura Paskus 

NMiF Segments

Correspondent for all segments
Laura Paskus 

Holtec Proponent John Heaton Pt. 1 
John Heaton, chair, Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance 

Understanding the Effects of New Mexico’s Nuclear Industrial Complex 
Dr. Myrriah Gómez, author of "Nuclear Nuevo México." 

Holtec Proponent John Heaton Pt. 2 
John Heaton, chair, Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance 

NM Senator Explains Formal Opposition to Holtec Proposal 
Jeff Steinborn, (D) NM District 36 – Doña Ana County 

New Mexico in Focus is the New Mexico PBS prime-time news magazine show covering the events, issues, and people that are shaping life in New Mexico and the Southwest. NMiF takes a multi-layered look at social, political, economic health, education, and art issues, and explores them in-depth with a critical eye to give them context beyond the "news of the moment."

NMPBS Executive Producer, Public Affairs, is Jeff Proctor. New Mexico in Focus Senior Producer for Public Affairs is Lou DiVizio. “Our Land” Senior Producer is Laura Paskus. The producer of New Mexico in Focus is Antonio Sanchez and Co-producer is Kathy Wimmer.

Funding for New Mexico in Focus is provided by the McCune Charitable Foundation and Viewers Like You.

Funding for the Your New Mexico Government Project comes from the Thornburg Foundation and New Mexico Local News Fund.

Funding for Our Land: New Mexico’s Environmental Past, Present & Future, is provided in part by the Neeper Natural History Programming Fund for KNME-TV.