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Did Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance collude with Holtec?

JULY 17, 2019

(LEA COUNTY, NM) -- Today, Nicholas Maxwell of Lea County submitted his brief to the New Mexico Office of the State Auditor complaining of government fraud, waste, and abuse against the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance (ELEA), a government-owned LLC operated by a coalition of local governments from the southern part of the state.

He complained Holtec International, a New Jersey-based company specializing in nuclear reactor technology, was unfairly assisted in winning a public bid sponsored by ELEA in early 2016 for purchasing public land to build a nuclear waste storage site. Now, the company is expected to wait years past a 2018 start to begin construction while the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission extends its review of the license application for the expansive facility that could be used to hold all the nation’s spent nuclear fuel — radioactive uranium left over from power production.

Maxwell's brief calls for the Auditor's investigation into allegations of collusion and public corruption involving a public-private partnership between ELEA and Holtec, as prior to public bidding, Holtec had allegedly received benefits from legal services rendered at the expense of taxpayers; those services included revising drafts of a 'Land Purchase Option Agreement' the company would eventually kick back to ELEA as part of its proposal during a public bid.

"The Option Agreement, drafted from a budget paid for by taxpayers, prepared by and through ELEA's counsel, was delivered exclusively to Holtec for mutual benefit," Maxwell said of the arrangement.

According to the brief, Holtec had a significant advantage over any would-be competitors while winning ELEA's public bid to build a nuclear waste facility, and Maxwell alleged a chairman of ELEA may have had some incentive to collude with Holtec during the process.

ELEA chairman John Heaton, who also chairs the New Mexico Mining Commission, faces Maxwell's call to vacate his positions of public trust:

"John Heaton afforded luxuries to Holtec during a public bid that were not afforded to any others," said Mr. Maxwell. "New Mexicans want public servants whose first and only priority is serving the public," he continued, "not industry mouthpieces who knowingly subvert fair procurement policies. Heaton's unfair practices are a national embarrassment, and I call for his immediate resignation from ELEA and from other seats he holds within state and local government."

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Nick Maxwell - wethefourth.org

Nick Maxwell

Nick Maxwell is a writer, analyst, and public watchdog. Maxwell advocates for government transparency and operates WeTheFourth.org.

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