Environmentalists and nuclear watchdog groups are lining up against plans to build a multibillion-dollar storage facility in southeastern New Mexico for spent nuclear fuel from commercial reactors around the United States.

Attorneys for several groups began making oral arguments before a panel with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission during a hearing Thursday in Albuquerque. The organizations include the Sierra Club and Maryland-based Beyond Nuclear.

The panel will determine which groups have standing and which objections will be considered as part of the case.

New Jersey-based Holtec International has applied for a license to construct the facility about 35 miles (56 kilometers) east of Carlsbad. It would be capable of storing as much as 173,000 metric tons of high-level radioactive waste.

Opponents have concerns about the project’s legality, the safety of transporting the fuel and potential environmental effects.

Signs opposing plans to build a storage facility for spent nuclear fuel in southern New Mexico line a hallway ahead of a meeting of a U. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)
Signs opposing plans to build a storage facility for spent nuclear fuel in southern New Mexico line a hallway ahead of a meeting of a U. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

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