Holtec’s Proposed Consolidated Interim Storage Facility in Southeastern New Mexico

Pictorial view of the proposed the HI-STORE CIS Facility under NRC review
Pictorial view of the proposed the HI-STORE CIS Facility under NRC review

Holtec International has launched the design and licensing of an autonomous consolidated interim storage facility on ELEA, LLC’s property in southeastern New Mexico. The Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance, LLC [ELEA] is a long-standing consortium of the Cities of Carlsbad & Hobbs and the Counties of Eddy & Lea, formed under New Mexico’s Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) in 2006. ELEA and Holtec have established an agreement for hosting a Consolidated Interim Story Facility (CIS) within its territory. This facility will be called HI-STORE CIS.  To learn more about the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance, visit www.eddyleaenergyalliance.com. The license application for the HI-STORE CIS facility was submitted to the USNRC on March 31, 2017.

The HI-STORE CIS will be sited on 1,000 acres of unused land approximately halfway between the cities of Carlsbad and Hobbs, N.M. The geologically stable, dry, elevated land is located 35 miles from nearest human habitat and features a well-developed transportation infrastructure, including rail access. The land was studied extensively for its environmental characteristics during the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) process.

Holtec will license the facility with the USNRC and build and operate the HI-STORE CIS facility with the anticipated support of the US Department of Energy. The HI-STORE CIS  employs the HI-STORM UMAX technology (NRC Docket No. 72-1040), which stores the loaded canisters in a subterranean configuration. HI-STORM UMAX is widely considered by industry experts to be the last word on public safety and security.

HI-STORE CIS seeks to fulfill America’s proclaimed goal to aggregate the used nuclear fuel canisters presently scattered across the country at dozens of independent spent fuel storage installations (ISFSIs) into one or two suitable locations that have overwhelming endorsement of their respective host communities. The proposed HI-STORE CIS facility aims to fulfill the principal mission of ELEA which is focused on boosting the economic vitality of its placid corner of southern New Mexico (see map below). The initial storage capacity of HI-STORE CIS is 10,000 storage canisters which translates to approximately 120,000 metric-tons of used uranium fuel.

Instead of the irreversible act of disposing the used fuel into a repository, HI-STORE CIS will provide an interim staging facility where the fuel can be kept in an inert environment in an absolute safe and secure configuration to protect the health and safety of the facility’s staff and the local populace. The decision on the approach to deal with the used fuel stored at HI-STORE over the long term can be made at a later date after the needed technologies to deal with them have reached sufficient maturity.

HI-STORE CIS is intended to be a universal storage facility, meaning it will store any US-origin commercial nuclear fuel currently packaged in dry storage canisters, or stored in the nation’s fuel pools. Specifically, the HI-STORE CIS will accept a loaded Canister of any provenance: whether they are horizontally stored canisters in Areva’s NUHOMS or vertical canisters in NAC’s (a subsidiary of Hitachi Zosen) or the legacy canisters supplied by now- extinct suppliers –  they all will be storable in HI-STORE CIS. No repackaging of fuel will be required for storing at HI-STORE CIS.

Some of the compelling attributes of HI-STORE CIS that speak to its transformative benefits and underlie its enthused acceptance by the nuclear savvy New Mexico’s citizenry are:

Safe and Secure

The canisters are stored in-the-ground in concrete & steel cavities that make them essentially impregnable to the societal threats that have emerged in the 21st century. The HI-STORE CIS storage facility, consisting of HI-STORM UMAX vertical ventilated system, is engineered to be immune to extreme environmental phenomena such as hurricanes, floods, tornados, and earthquakes. HI-STORE CIS is designed to withstand a crashing aircraft or an (improbable) on-site fire without any radiological consequences.

Minimum Radiation Dose to the Plant Personnel

HI-STORM UMAX is engineered to maximize safety of the workers (who will be local residents) and minimize the radiation dose to the environment. The HI-STORE CIS facility can emptied of its canisters (defueled) with utmost ease and maximum safety.  With appropriate ancillaries on hand, a canister in the HI-STORE CIS facility can be placed into storage, or removed from storage in less than eight hours.

Zero Radiological Release to the Environment

The facility is environmentally benign releasing no effluents or emitting no emissions.  The radiation dose at the site boundary computes to a small fraction of the cosmic radiation that bathes our planet.


The HI-STORE CIS storage facility is visually inconspicuous. Its profile is less than 610 mm (2 ft.) tall, making it a less visible target from the air and less visible from public land. There are no areas on the ISFSI where a person may hide, making breach of security pretty nigh impossible.


NO adverse effect on wild life forms

An Environmental report prepared for the HI-STORE CIS site indicates that the facility will have negligible impact on the local flora and fauna or the local fowl & critters that inhabit the land. There is not even the remotest possibility of contamination of ground water.

Will shrug off the strongest of earthquakes

In due deference to Mother Nature, the design Basis seismic intensity level assumed for the facility corresponds to a 10,000-year -return Earthquake. (Typical for the presently operating nuclear plants is 100-year-return Earthquake).

All-welded Canisters made to the most stringent Codes

The fuel is contained inside all-welded stainless steel canisters (no bolted joints) that allow no pathway for the radiological matter to escape to the environment. The expected service life of each Canister in the high & dry plateau of New Mexico is tens of thousands of years; the proposed service life of the facility requested from the USNRC is a conservative 120 years.

Modest land area requirement

All of the 10,000 storage cavities are enclosed in a rectangular area of 110 acres. Another 178 acres is needed for ancillary buildings and facilities such as the parking lot, double fence security system, batch plant for concrete mixing, the Cask receipt & transfer building and roadways. Thus the entire HI-STORE CIS facility will occupy 288 acres out of 1045 acres allotted to Holtec by ELEA,LLC.

HI-STORE CIS Leadership

Technology and community leaders committed to establishing HI-STORE CIS are profiled below:

John A. Heaton, Chairman

John Heaton is the volunteer energy coordinator for the City of Carlsbad where he serves as the Chair of the Mayor’s Nuclear Task Force. He is also an appointed member of the board of the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance and Chairs the Board of CEHMM and the NM Mining Commission. Prior to these appointments, he was elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives where he served on the interim Radioactive and Hazardous Waste and Pension & Investment Oversight Committees. At the national level, he was chairman of the NCSL Energy committee, where he chaired the Environmental Management oversight sub-committee and the High Level Waste Working Group. He is married to Julia and has two adult children.

Councilor Jason Shirley

Jason Shirley was born in 1981 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  He moved with his family to Carlsbad in 1991 to pioneer Word of Life Church.  After graduating from Carlsbad High School, he returned to Tulsa to attend Rhema Bible Training Center, from which he graduated in 2002 with an emphasis on youth ministry.  He returned to Carlsbad in 2003 to accept the youth pastor position at Word of Life Church, where he still is employed today.  He is also the hospice chaplain at Golden Services in Carlsbad.  He is married to Tiffany Shirley of Sand Springs, Oklahoma (2002).  They have a 5 year old daughter, Brooklyn.

Mayor Sam Cobb, Secretary

Sam Cobb is the Mayor of Hobbs, New Mexico and has extensive experience with community service organizations in Lea County. For the State of New Mexico, he served as the Commissioner for Economic Development and Vice Chair of the New Mexico Small Business Investment Corporation. Other appointments include the SBIC Board and the Association of Commerce and Industry, for which he was the recipient of VIVA. Cobb has working knowledge of the Spanish language and a solid background in Mexican and Japanese cultures. He and his wife Rhonda have two sons, Phillip and Jarred.

Commissioner Jack Volpato, Treasurer

Jack Volpato is a Carlsbad native who has extensive experience in government affairs.  He served as Commissioner of Eddy County from 2006 to 2014.  He was also a member of the Carlsbad Department of Development, Past President of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce, and a Member of the Mayors Nuclear Task Force.  Other special activities include co-founding the Noahs Ark Animal Refuge, creation of an annual scholarship to NMSU-C, and acting as Chair of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce.

Commissioner Susan Crockett

Susan Crockett is an Eddy County Native.  She was elected Eddy County Commissioner District 5 in 2012.  She sits on the NMAC Board for Economic Development and Infrastructure. She is a member of Energy Communities Alliance, Treasurer of ELEA, Secretary/Treasurer of the Carlsbad Department of Development and also holds the position of VP and GM of Springtime Cleaning; where she oversees seventy employees; manages over 50 accounts as well as handles budgeting, payroll, strategic planning and marketing.  She is former Chairman on the Board for the Carlsbad Chamber and currently sits on the Executive Board for the Carlsbad Department of Development.  She is married to Jason Crockett and has two sons.

Commissioner Gregg Fulfer, Vice Chairman

Gregg Fulfer is a Lea County Commissioner in New Mexico, and sits on America’s Counties for Energy Independence’s Board of Directors.  Gregg has more than 20 years’ experience in economic development and regularly works with multiple county advisory boards, chambers’ of commerce, school boards, city governments and leaders of all the communities in Lea County. At the state level, Gregg serves on the New Mexico Economic Development Commission and on the New Mexico Environment Improvement Board. At the national level, Gregg is the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of America’s Counties for Energy Independence and serves on the Bureau of Land Management Resource Advisory Council.

Ed Mayer, Program Director (Holtec International)

Ed Mayer is a Program Director at Holtec International, where he is responsible for the Consolidated Interim Storage Facility in southeastern New Mexico. The facility will address the Nation’s spent nuclear fuel issue with the safest technology licensed by the USNRC.   He is also responsible for the construction of the Holtec Technology Campus in Camden, NJ. The $320M project is aimed to help revitalize the City of Camden, a former bastion of technology and manufacturing. Prior to these roles at Holtec, Mayer served 28 years in the U.S. Submarine Force where he commanded the USS Oklahoma City (SSN-723) and USS Florida (SSGN-728). He is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University where he earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering.