An environmental organization said Friday it filed a notice of appeal in the New Mexico Court of Appeals questioning a Nov. 1 state decision that would allow for transuranic nuclear waste to be held at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad.

The Albuquerque-based Southwest Research and Information Center said in a news release Friday afternoon that the New Mexico Environmental Department ignored the comments of 200 people who requested that modifications of WIPP's state permit be subject to a public hearing because of dangers posed by the waste.

"The NMED virtually rubber stamped this request without a public hearing and a year after rejecting a similar request," said Don Hancock, director of SRIC's nuclear waste safety program. "Nothing has really changed since then with the laws and regulations."

"Our primary concern is that the waste is being transported in inferior containers that historically have not been used to transport the 'hot' remote-handled waste," SRIC's Don Hancock said.

Hancock said the SRIC had a number of issues with the waste and the ways the state chose to handle the public's concerns despite having a public hearing.

"SRIC feels that the permit request was incomplete and did not adequately address the real reason that DOE wants shielded containers - there is not enough space for remote-handled waste because of the way the facility has been mismanaged.


State law requires a public hearing, but since NMED rubber-stamped the request, we have no choice but to sue," Hancock said in the press release.

The organization also asked NMED Secretary Dave Martin to stay the WIPP decision until the Court of Appeals issues a decision.