Posts Tagged ‘Andrews County Texas’

Gov. Rick Perry has replaced all six of the Texas commissioners who sit on the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission reappointing only two previously serving commissioner.  The TLLRWDCC commissioner terms were modified by Senate Bill 1605 as part of the 82nd Legislature giving Perry the ability to replace commissioners whose positions he didn’t like with new commissioners.

The appointees were:

  •  Eric J. Doyal of Houston, a senior associate at Capital Point Partners. He is appointed for a term to expire Sept. 1, 2013.
  • Andrews County Judge Richard H. Dolgener, Dolgener was first appointed in 2008 and is appointed for a term to expire Sept. 1, 2015.
  • Milton B. Lee II of San Antonio, a registered professional engineer and retired CEO of CPS Energy who left amid the shakeup following the municipally owned utility’s failure to disclose a dramatic price increase in the estimated cost of two new nuclear reactors to the City Council before a major bond vote.  He is appointed for a term to expire Sept. 1, 2013.
  • Linda Morris of Waco, a licensed medical health physicist and the Department Chair of the  Environmental Health & Safety Technology Department at Texas State Technical College. She is appointed for a term to expire Sept. 1, 2017.
  • John Matthew Salsman of College Station, a certified health physicist and the director of Environmental Health and Safety at Texas A&M University. He is appointed for a term to expire Sept. 1, 2017.
  • Robert Wilson of Lockhart, an attorney and partner at Jackson, Sjoberg, McCarthy and Wilson. He is re-appointed for a term to expire Sept. 1, 2017, and will serve as chair of the commission for a term to expire at the pleasure of the governor.

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According to the Fox news station in Salt Lake City, UT, controversy has arisen about EnergySolutions’ plans to dispose of what they call blended radioactive waste at its Clive Facility in the west desert of Utah.

There are three classifications of waste: A, B and C, all radioactive. Only the lowest level, type A, is allowed in Utah, but Energy Solutions says it’s found a way to blend and store the waste safely by mixing higher-level class C waste with low-level waste and labeling it class A – are you buying this, cause I’m pretty skeptical and it just sounds like fiction to me.  This magic would take place at a facility in Tennessee according to EnergySolutions.

EnergySolutions may have found a legal loophole that would allow them to store higher level radioactive waste at the Clive facility, but ultimately, the Utah Division of Radiation Control will decide whether the blended waste can be disposed in Utah.

In the meantime, William Dornsife, executive vice president of WCS, the Texas company building a radioactive waste disposal facility in Andrews County, Texas is telling Utah to bring it on. He wants the waste to go to Texas, not Utah.

Texas is licensed to take class A, B and C waste without the blending alchemy that EnergySolutions is proposing, and there is a lot of money at stake — potentially hundreds of millions of dollars.  WCS and billionaire Harold Simmons are salivating at the opportunity to spend what they probably see as the political capital with which they walked away from the 82nd Texas legislative session earlier this year to rake in the profits at the expense and liability of the Texas taxpayer.

Face it Texas, we are now the radioactive waste capital of the country.

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Facilities that process large quantities of radioactive material have the potential for significant environmental contamination due to the scale of their operations. Over time, leaks from these facilities can lead to significant radioactive contamination of the subsurface soil and groundwater.  In addition, the high costs of disposing of radioactive material off-site may lead these facilities to store more waste on site, increasing the potential for subsurface radioactive contamination and significantly higher decommissioning costs.

Currently these facilities are required to perform surveys to verify that radioactive releases are below regulatory requirements and do not pose public health hazards.  However, the NRC believes that existing regulations were not clear enough concerning subsurface contamination.

A new Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) rule would now require these facilities to minimize the introduction of residual radioactivity at their sites during operations. It also requires reporting of additional details about a facilities cost estimates for decommissioning and tightens NRC control over certain financial instruments set aside to cover eventual decommissioning costs.

These new regulations, which will take effect December 17, 2012, were designed to prevent future “legacy sites” with insufficient funds for decommissioning. A legacy site is a facility with an owner who cannot complete complex decommissioning work for technical or financial reasons, causing those costs to fall to the taxpayer.

An unintended consequence will be that there is that much more low-level radioactive that will need to be disposed of in sites such as the Andrews County site that the Texas legislature just passed legislation on opening it up to accept waste from outside the original two state compact (Texas and Vermont).  Click here to read more about radioactive waste disposal in the US.

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Guest Submission by Karen Hadden, Executive Director of the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition

NOTE: SB 1504 is up for third reading on the House floor later today. 

On May 17, 2011 the Texas House voted 108 Ayes to 36 Nays to pass SB 1504, which will allow WCS’ Andrews County radioactive waste dump to accept wastes from around the country. We’d been able to make some improvements in the bill on the front end and there are some limits on Out of Compact waste, an amazing accomplishment in light of our current legislature. There was also good debate on the floor, which will help in having oversight and scrutiny of the radioactive waste dump in the future. Still, this bill is bad news… It has already passed in the Senate.

In an act of utter disgrace to Texas, 108 House members voted in favor of allowing radioactive waste from around the country to be dumped in Texas. They should have instead limited the site to Texas and Vermont waste. The SB 1504 vote shows many Representativesʼ disregard for health and safety and their willingness to pander to a Dallas billionaire and his waste empire.

It is disgusting to see supposedly educated legislators vote down basic amendments that would allow a study of transportation risks and whether emergency responders are trained and equipped to deal with an accident involving radioactive waste. Some legislators, including Reps. Lon Burnam, Jose Menendez, Roberto Alonzo and Pete Gallego deserve huge credit for trying to improve the bill, but overall, money ruled the day instead of common sense and decency.

Bill info can be found by searching the bill number at www.capitol.state.tx.us

The Vote

As shown by Texas Legislature Online: Legislative Session: 82(R) Unofficial Bill: SB 1504

Disclaimer: This vote has not been certified by the House Journal Clerk. It is provided for informational purposes only. Once the vote is certified, it will be recorded in the journal according to Rule 5 of the House Rules and made available on this web site.

RV# 1140 — Unofficial Totals: 108 Yeas, 36 Nays, 2 Present, not voting

Yeas – Aliseda; Alvarado; Anderson, R.; Aycock; Beck; Berman; Bohac; Bonnen; Branch; Brown; Burkett; Button; Callegari; Chisum; Christian; Coleman; Cook; Craddick; Creighton; Crownover; Darby; Davis, J.; Davis, S.; Deshotel; Driver; Eiland; Eissler; Elkins; Fletcher; Flynn; Frullo; Garza; Geren; Gonzales, L.; Gooden; Guillen; Hamilton; Hancock; Hardcastle; Harless; Harper-Brown; Hartnett; Hilderbran; Hochberg; Hopson; Howard, C.; Huberty; Hughes; Jackson; Johnson; Keffer; King, P.; King, S.; King, T.; Kleinschmidt; Kuempel; Landtroop; Larson; Laubenberg; Lavender; Legler; Lewis; Lozano; Lyne; Madden; Mallory Caraway; Margo; Martinez; Miller, D.; Miller, S.; Morrison; Muñoz; Murphy; Nash; Oliveira; Orr; Otto; Parker; Patrick; Paxton; Peña; Perry; Phillips; Pickett; Pitts; Price; Quintanilla; Riddle; Ritter; Schwertner; Scott; Sheets; Sheffield; Shelton; Smith, T.; Smith, W.; Smithee; Solomons; Taylor, L.; Taylor, V.; Truitt; Veasey; Weber; White; Woolley;  Workman; Zedler; Zerwas

Nays – Allen; Alonzo; Anchia; Burnam; Cain; Carter; Castro; Davis, Y.; Dukes; Dutton; Farias; Gallego; Giddings; Gonzales, V.; Gutierrez; Hernandez Luna; Howard, D.; Isaac; Kolkhorst; Lucio; Marquez; Martinez Fischer; McClendon; Menendez; Miles; Naishtat; Raymond; Reynolds; Rodriguez; Simpson; Strama; Thompson; Turner; Villarreal; Vo; Walle

Present, not voting – Gonzalez; Mr. Speaker(C)


According to a story by KHOU-Channel 11 out of Houston, radiation has contaminated the underground pipes, water tanks, and plumbing that provide drinking water for much of Central Texas and the Hill Country, much to the consternation of  concerned city officials in the region, who have tested the pipes with Geiger counters.

The City of Brady city made the discovery when it recently dug up older steel water pipes from the ground in an attempt to replace them.  When the city brought the older pipes to a local recycling scrap yard, the scrap yard turned them away as “too radioactive” to recycle.   Could this be even more radioactive waste that will be traveling through Texas to the WCS dump in Andrews County?  Check out the KHOU story at Texas drinking water makes pipes and plumbing radioactive.

Check out these news stories on the bill.

Texas House OKs taking in more radioactive waste

Texas House OKs plan for radioactive waste dump owned by Dallas billionaire Simmons

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Well for those who have been waiting to hear how the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission (TLLRWDCC) voted on the new rule that would open Texas up to accepting radioactive waste from as many as 36 other states (and possibly beyond that), it is no surprise that the Compact Commission voted in favor of the rule.

Public Citizen‘s Texas director, Tom “Smitty” Smith and the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition’s executive director, Karen Hadden drove through the night to the edges of the state in order to attend the hearing this morning, and have spent the better part of the day listening to the public and the Commissioners debate issues around this rule.

Karen Hadden just texted us to say:

In an outrageous demonstration of ignoring public opposition, the unfunded Compact Commision, which has no office, no bylaws and only one staff person, still managed to vote to open Texas up to radioactive waste from around the country.  In Andrews County, a late afternoon vote followed public testimony, predominantly in opposition to the radioactive waste expansion, and heated debate between the Commissioners.

Legal challenges are likely.  The Commissioners rushed this crucial vote through during the holidays ahead of the swearing in of a new Governor in Vermont and the beginning of the 82nd Texas legislative session.  They rushed this vote through in spite of concerns being expressed by legislative members of the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission during a December 15th Sunset Commission hearing. They rushed this vote through in spite of issues around citizens’ ability to submit their comments because of a incorrect email address listed in the Texas Register posting of the rules and instructions to the public about where to submit comments.  They rushed this through despite a motion by Commissioner Gregory to extend the comment period which they refused to do.   They rush this through and Texas got screwed.

We will post more on this vote tomorrow.

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