Texas legislators must reject proposal to lower human health and safety measures at nuclear waste dump

submitted

Texas legislators should reject proposed legislation that aims to remove environmental safeguards currently in place governing the disposal of nuclear waste in the state.

A bill that strips away the human health and safety precautions around the disposal of nuclear waste which have been in place since the state authorized nuclear waste dump sites nearly 20 years ago is headed to a vote in the Texas House of Representatives later this month or next. HB 2692, authored by Odessa Rep. Brooks Landgraf, would remove the provision mandating that all nuclear waste be containerized in steel- reinforced structures prior to being placed in a below-surface waste dump.

“Every environmental organization in the state of Texas has come out against this drastic rollback on protecting the citizens of this state, yet it sailed right out of committee and is headed to the full House and Senate” said Eric Holguin, executive director of Texas Environment First. “Texas is one of only a handful of states that even allows nuclear waste dumps to operate. There is absolutely no rational explanation for why the state should lower its regulatory standards in 2021.”

Example of LLR Waste being disposed of in secure canisters according to court law.

The Texas facility disposes of Class A, B, and C low level radioactive waste in Andrews, County, which is also home to the Ogallala Aquifer – a vital source of drinking water for much of the state. From the outset of operations, the state has mandated containerized disposal. The state has a vested interest in the dump, since the the nuclear waste becomes property of the state once the license expires and the dump is closed.

Holguin charactered H.B. 2685, and the Senate companion (S.B. 1046, By Sen. Birdwell) as nothing more than a vendor bill designed exclusively to enrich the private operator of the dumpsite. While the proposal purports to seek a ban on high level nuclear waste disposal in Texas, no federal license for high level waste storage or disposal has been issued in Texas.

“All of us are prepared to fight any federal efforts to bring high level nuclear waste to Texas,” Holguin said. “But right now, low level nuclear waste is being disposed of every day at the Andrews facility. De-regulating nuclear waste dumps is a colossally bad idea. The Texas Legislature must reject it.”