At a time when lax regulatory oversight has contributed to such catastrophic problems for our nation as the financial crisis and the BP oil spill, Texas may be in the process of setting itself up for a fiscally disastrous and environmentally catastrophic future – all because of a vote by an appointed committee taking place out on the dusty, lonely edges of West Texas.
The hearing on plans to expand the low-level radioactive waste facility in Andrews County, that was postponed last month because of the volume of comments for official review, has been rescheduled for Saturday, and opponents of the facility are stepping up their opposition.
Public Citizen and the SEED Coalition are reiterating our concerns that the Andrews County site operated by Waste Control Specialists will hold more than just discarded medical equipment and research-related waste that had been exposed to radiation.
“WCS and other proponents of importation repeat over and over again that medical facilities and research institutions need a place for their waste,” said Public Citizen’s Trevor Lovell.
“What they fail to mention is that of all the so-called ‘low-level’ radioactive waste stored at other sites around the country, since 2000 medical and academic waste combined has represented only one half of one percent of the total waste by volume, and has represented even less of the waste by radioactivity (0.05 percent). ‘Syringes and booties’ are not the vast majority of what will come into Texas despite proponents’ inacurate characterization of the waste.”
Supporters of the effort to allow Texas to import more low-level radioactive waste have stated emphatically that the dump will not be a warehouse for obsolete nuclear weaponry and that it has been proven as safe as any similar facility in the world. But they fail to mention that all six similar dumps in the US have leaked and that everything except the reactor rods from nuclear power plants could be shipped to the dump.
Opponents, including 15 Democratic members of the Texas House, argue the materials that end up in the West Texas dumpsite will become a liability for Texas taxpayers in perpetuity.
“We are particularly concerned that the (Low-level Radioactive Waste) Compact Commission has not addressed the significant increase in the state’s financial liability or a number of transportation safety issues implicit in waste importation. We feel it’s necessary for the Legislature to have the opportunity to weigh in on these crucial matters,” the Democratic members said in a letter
The letter was signed by Reps. Lon Burnam and Marc Veasey of Fort Worth, Jim Dunnam of Waco, Jessica Farrar, Scott Hochberg, Armando Walle and Garnet Coleman of Houston, Veronica Gonzales of McAllen, Joe Pickett of El Paso, Mike Villareal, Joe Farias and Roland Gutierrez of San Antonio, Rafael Anchia of Dallas, and Elliot Naishtat and Donna Howard of Austin.
The hearing originally scheduled for last month was pushed back because the commission did not have sufficient time to digest the mountain of comments in received on the application to expand.
Saturday’s meeting begins at 9 a.m. at Andrews High School. For the agenda, click here. For the packet that contains the supporting material and other information for the proposed rule change, click here.
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