With the passage of SB 1504 in the Texas Senate, radioactive waste could soon be barreling down Texas highways and through our neighborhoods by way of Interstate 10 through Houston, San Antonio and El Paso; I-20 and I-30 though Dallas and Forth Worth, Midland and Odessa ; and I-27 though Lubbock and Amarillo.
The greatest risk we face is having an accident with vehicles containing waste. Cleanup estimates range from $100 to a billion dollars or more according to the U.S. Department of Energy, but the state of Texas has set aside only $500,000. Taxpayers would pay the rest.
And what if an accident happens next to a school, playground or hospital? Don’t we want to make sure that our local emergency responders have the training and equipment needed to handle an accident where a truck is leaking radioactive waste?
Thanks to Senator Seliger’s leadership, there have been some important protections added in, but a number of loopholes remain that dramatically increases the risk and liability assumed by Texas taxpayers. There is still a chance to close these loopholes. This bill goes to the Texas House floor next week and Texans should ask their legislators to make sure that there is an immediate thorough analysis of transportation risks, costs of cleaning up contamination from accidents or leaks, and waste capacity at the site.
As the Japanese nuclear disaster has taught us, cleaning up after radioactive waste can be a costly and dangerous process. We urge the house to make sure we have protective measures in place before an accident.