We support the community living in rural Southeast Otero County New Mexico, the community impacted by the proposed borehole project. This area includes the Otero Mesa, an area of wild and beautiful grassland. Adjacent to the East is the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The land south of Pinon, NM is wild and beautiful. Many residents can trace their family's history in the area back to the 1800s. They work hard to make a living and pay taxes.
The Department of Energy (DOE) plans to drill multiple deep boreholes, three miles into the earths crust in this community. DOE claims these boreholes will test their suitability for deep borehole nuclear waste disposal. They further claim that no radioactive waste will be dumped in the these test holes. They DO NOT promise that similar holes nearby won't be drilled and used for nuclear waste if that first hole looks good. That is clearly their intention. To quote the DOE:
“The Department is particularly interested in evaluating whether deep boreholes might offer a safe and practical alternative to mined geologic repositories for smaller forms of nuclear waste.”
DOE proposes to spend $30,000,000 for two holes. These will be to test out the concept of nuclear waste disposal and will show if the rock is suitable for nuclear waste. Once things are found okay we are supposed to believe that DOE will then go elsewhere and drill another $30,000,000 "test" hole to see if the rock is good there and then dump radioactive waste there?
Really? Does that seem reasonable?
Here is what actually is going on. DOE will drill and test. If things are good they will buy or take nearby land (eminent domain if necessary) and drill a field of boreholes for a nuclear waste dump. One Sandia Lab plan shows about 950 boreholes are likely.
This saves DOE a cool $30,000,000 and more important it saves them many years time. A new borehole elsewhere will take years to permit and bring in, and then it might turn out to be bad rock!