US and French companies form venture for nuke waste storage

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A Dallas company and a France-based multinational corporation are forming a joint venture to license an interim storage site in West Texas for high-level nuclear waste.

Orano USA and Waste Control Specialists announced on Tuesday their intent to form the joint venture as a competing group tries to promote its proposal for southeastern New Mexico, the Hobbs News-Sun reports .

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Waste Control Specialists had notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission three years ago of its plan to seek the license to build the facility in rural Andrews County, Texas, that would store spent fuel rods from power plants. There's currently no such disposal site in the U.S.

The proposed site is five miles east of Eunice, New Mexico.

Orano USA is a division of the Paris, France-based Orano company that specializes in nuclear power and renewable energy.

The move comes as a debate over what to do with spent fuel generated by the nation's nuclear power plants. Backers of another plan to build a temporary storage site in southeastern New Mexico are pressing Washington officials to support their proposal.

Holtec International and a coalition of local leaders from southeastern New Mexico first announced plans three years ago to construct a below-ground space for temporarily housing the tons of spent fuel that has been piling up at reactors around the U.S.

Federal officials have long acknowledged that the future of nuclear energy in the U.S. depends on the ability to manage and dispose of used fuel and high-level radioactive waste.

The U.S. Energy Department in 2015 announced that it would begin identifying possible locations for interim storage sites as part of its plan to spur the use of nuclear power and develop the transportation and storage infrastructure needed to manage the waste.

Under the Trump administration, some members of Congress have shown renewed interested in the mothballed Yucca Mountain project in Nevada as a long-term solution for nuclear waste storage.

But the industry officials have said that temporary storage is needed because the licensing process for Yucca Mountain would take years.

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Information from: Hobbs News-Sun, http://www.hobbsnews.com