Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pollution: Calls for Federal investigation of Texas' radioactive waste dump

Environmental groups have asked the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to investigate the radioactive waste storage and disposal programs administered by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for the West Texas radioactive waste site owned by Waste Control Specialists (WCS). The groups say the TCEQ has failed to protect public health, safety and the environment by repeatedly and brazenly abusing its legal authority and disregarding warnings of its technical staff about the site's hazards. Further, citizens have not had adequate opportunities to participate in the licensing processes.

The groups are calling on the NRC to consider terminating or suspending the TCEQ's authority to regulate the storage and disposal of low-level radioactive waste and radioactive byproducts in Texas. The groups also are asking the EPA to review the potential impact on the water supply and take action if necessary.

The request, available at, was filed by Public Citizen and the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club along with state Rep. Lon Burnam (D-Fort Worth) and individuals from Andrews, Texas, and Eunice, N.M., who live near the facility in Andrews County. The matter is urgent because WCS has been pushing the Texas Low Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission to let it import radioactive waste from at least 36 other states. The commission's decision about accepting the additional waste was postponed earlier this year and likely will be taken up after the November election.

"Some of the hottest radioactive waste that exists, including nuclear reactor containment vessels and poison curtains that absorb reactor radiation, could be buried in the proposed radioactive waste dump. There is not a single radionuclide that can't go to the so-called 'low-level' site, and many of them remain hazardous for literally millions of years," said Karen Hadden, executive director of the SEED Coalition.

Source: Public Citizen