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Last-Minute Bill Could Bring More Nuclear Waste to Texas

May 4, 2017

Last-Minute Bill Could Bring More Nuclear Waste to Texas

AUSTIN, Texas — A bill (CSHB 2662, Landgraf) that could be voted on Friday in the Texas House of Representatives would needlessly expand the Waste Control Specialists’ Andrews County low-level radioactive waste site. The bill would throw open the site to more waste from other states and fast-track an expansion of the site, even though there is still plenty of room left in existing waste pits.

Currently, only 30 percent of the licensed volume for low-level radioactive waste at the facility is available for states other than Texas and Vermont. As of December 2016, waste from other states took up only 1 percent of this volume.

The company, which accepts low-level radioactive waste from most of the nation, has been “bleeding cash” and recently asked the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to suspend its application to accept high-level radioactive waste at the Andrews County site because it couldn’t afford “the estimated $7.5 million needed to continue the licensing process,” according to an article from the San Antonio Express News.

Why is a struggling company interested in expanding an operation that has never made money and is nowhere near capacity?

“Greed,” said Adrian Shelley, director of the Public Citizen Texas office. “Given the current revelations about WCS’ financial situation, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality should demand the company post a cash bond to protect the people of Texas from the costs associated with an eventual cleanup.”

“The problem with the site is not lack of room,” said Karen Hadden, director of the SEED Coalition, which is partnering with Public Citizen to stop the Andrews County site from becoming a high-level radioactive waste dump. “The problem has been a lack of shipments, declining revenues and increasing debt. How is digging an additional pit going to help reduce their debt?”

Added Shelley, “WCS should pay heed to the time-tested wisdom of Molly Ivins, who famously said, ‘The first rule of holes: When you’re in one, stop digging.’”