environment
3:05 pm
Fri November 12, 2010

Texas to Consider Accepting Low-Level Radioactive Waste From Across US

A hearing in Midland, Texas tomorrow will move foward on adopting a process that could allow a low-level radioactive waste facility in West Texas to accept toxic waste from states other than just Texas and Vermont.

The hearing will be held by the Texas Low Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission, an organization with representatives from Texas and Vermont. There are about ten such compacts across the US involving two or more states cooperating on radioactive waste disposal.

The proposed rule change would allow a Waste Control Specialists facility in Andrews County potentially to accept low-level radioactive waste from 36 states across the US. Tomorrow's hearing will not result in approval of the rule; it would instead finalize the language of the rule change to be posted in the Texas register.

Low-level radioactive waste is mostly garbage from nuclear power plants and hospitals, like protective clothing, broken tools, used syringes and rags. It does not include high-level radioactive materials like spent nuclear fuel and radioactive sludge.

The commission making the decision consists of eight people, six appointed by Texas Governor Rick Perry, and two appointed by Vermont Governor Jim Douglas. Harold Simmons, who owns Waste Control Specialists, donated $250,000 to Gov. Rick Perry's reelection campaign.

The Statesman's reporting on this last May said Waste Control Specialists stood to gain billions.

Disposal of the waste could be worth billions, and Waste Control Specialists, which operates a hazardous waste dump in Andrews County in far West Texas, is the sole company licensed by the Texas environmental agency to accept it. But none of the waste has been buried in Andrews as the company finishes overcoming hurdles at the state environmental agency to get full authority to bury it.

The plan has gained some support of the local business community in Andrews, Texas, according to this report from KWES TV.

The commission will hear from several petitioners, including the University of Texas, Texas A&M University, the South Texas Project Nuclear Generating Station, and the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Generating Station.

Tomorrow's meeting will take place at10 AM at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, Center for Energy and Economic Diversification, 1400 Farm-To-Market Road 1788 N, Midland, Texas 79706. You can read the exact wording of the proposed rule change here.