September 21, 2019

Plan to transport nuclear waste to West Texas draws concern

SEED Coalition is a party in the legal case opposing high-level radioactive waste storage at WCS’ site in Andrews County, Texas and we just filed a new contention regarding significant risks of transportation of this deadly nuclear material. Hopefully, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board will pay attention to this critical issue and the technica lhurdles that have now been documented by the U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board in a report to Congress and the DOE.

Here is the study the contention was based on, the contention we filed and the expert witness testimony that backs it up.

Perla Trevizo,
Houston Chronicle

A proposal to send high-level nuclear waste to West Texas may seem like something Houstonians shouldn’t worry about. But if approved, some of the state’s largest metro areas could be in the path of thousands of shipments of radioactive materials as they make their way from plants across the country.

Interim Storage Partners, formed by Orano USA and Waste Control Specialists LLC, is applying for an initial 40-year license to eventually store 40,000 metric tons of used nuclear fuel in an existing facility in Andrews County.

Those in favor say it will save taxpayers money and provide a temporary solution to the decades-old impasse over finding a permanent storage solution for the country’s nuclear waste. But critics, made up of an unlikely coalition of environmentalists, ranchers and some in the oil industry, say the plan is not worth the risk of exposure en route to, or at, the storage site

So far, the plan appears to be moving forward.

The least risky path is leaving it close to where it is until a permanent repository is available, said Karen Hadden, executive director of the Texas-based Sustainable Energy and Economic Development Coalition. “It makes no sense to ship it to consolidated interim storage sites. Why transport for this purpose alone and then transport again to a permanent repository? There is also the risk of creating a dangerous de facto permanent site, that should never happen because it could lead to disaster.”

They also call on Texas’ congressional delegation to fight the proposal. They have the power to stop the proposal from moving forward, said Tom “Smitty” Smith, with Public Citizen, the nonprofit consumer advocacy group.

Read more at the Houston Chronicle web site.

Sept. 12, 2019

Help protect your community from radioactive waste risks! Send a letter now!

The comment period ends Sept. 20, 2019.

See a sample letter of comments you can copy and paste and then e-mail to the NRC here.

The NRC is considering reclassifying very hot Greater-Than-Class C (GTCC) and Transuranic Waste (GTCC-like).

It includes highly radioactive hardware, such as metal pieces that have been irradiated inside a nuclear reactor.

This is part of an effort to dispose of ALL of the nation’s GTCC and GTCC-like waste at the Federal Waste Facility at the Andrews County Texas WCS site.

It would be 28 times more curies than that facility is licensed for, and 41 times the curies of the adjacent Compact Waste Facility, that accepts Class A, B and C low-level radioactive waste from nuclear reactors around the country. No full Site-specific EIS has been done for using the WCS facility for this dangerous concentrated radioactive waste.

The GTCC waste would go into containers that weigh 100,000 pounds each, and would be stacked to 7 units deep in the WCS Federal Waste Facility, starting from 120′ deep. This is way too shallow! This waste should be disposed of deep underground. The Environmental Analysis for the WCS site lays out concerns about radionuclides volatilizing, working their way upwards. Contamination could spread through air, water and soil.

Governor Abbott wrote a great letter to the NRC on reclassifying GTCC waste, which could allow some of it to come to WCS as Class C waste. He said “At this time, I oppose any increase in the amount or concentration of radioactivity authorized for disposal at the facility in Andrews County, Texas.” Read the letter here… Read the letter here…

Click on these documents for more NRC information:

Report from legal hearing on WCS’ dangerous high-level radioactive waste plan

The July 10-11 legal hearing on WCS’ dangerous high-level radioactive waste plan was held at the Midland County Courthouse. Fifty opponents of the plan were highly visible, many of us dressed in red. The media coverage was great. The hearing was the lead story after a July 9th press conference. Reporters covered both days of the hearing.

Attorneys did a great job of speaking up for our health and safety and pointing out flaws in WCS’ license application, including the fact that it is illegal to construct and operate a consolidated high-level radioactive waste storage facility under current federal law because there is no permanent repository. (Yucca Mountain was seriously flawed and efforts to license it have been halted.) They also noted that this application would result in unprecedented transportation of over half of the nation’s existing irradiated fuel rods.

The three Atomic Safety and Licensing Board judges will make a decision by August 26th regarding which parties will get intervenor status and which of the 50 contentions, if any, will be accepted for further review.

Some things that stood out:

  • WCS / Interim Storage Partners (ISP) made clear that they are only interested in meeting minimum requirements. They said that they don’t have to analyze the worst-case scenario for a radiation release, although intervenors provided expert testimony and data regarding worst-case impacts, which are significantly worse than the data in the WCS license application would suggest.
  • Attorneys for Fasken Oil and Ranch pointed out the illegality of licensing the WCS proposal and also a major application deficiency, the failure to identify geological factors near the site. Specifically, there are 160 abandoned oil and gas wells within five miles of WCS that were built before 1967. They may have collapsed, creating geological instability, but WCS failed to analyze the wells.

A video recording is available at

Photos from press conference and hearing.

July 9, 2019

Discussion begins on nuclear waste storage in Andrews County

Opponents of a proposal to store nuclear waste in Andrews County will speak before a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission panel at a hearing Wednesday.

Representatives for environmental groups and oil companies are set to present 50 contentions regarding “health, safety and economic risks, as well as the legality of licensing the facility,” according to a press release.

“Based on this hearing, [they] will decide which parties have standing in the case, and which contentions they will accept for further consideration,” the press release states.

Interim Storage Partners first applied for a license to store high-level nuclear waste at a temporary storage facility in 2016, according to a previous Reporter-Telegram article. The waste would be transported through Midland County’s railroad lines.

Read more at Midland Reporter-Telegram site.

Summary of Contentions in Opposition to WCS’ high-level radioactive waste application

Hearing – Wednesday, July 10th at 9 AM.

News Conference: Tuesday, July 9th – 2 PM

Please join us!
301 S. Main, Midland, TX
Midland County Courthouse, 500 North Loraine Street, Midland, TX
Main and Industrial Streets, parking lot outside the Rutter Building

Come join in if you’re able! Help set up if possible and hold signs at the news conference.
Please arrive at 8 AM and wear red if you can!
Watch the July 9th News Conference live streamed at 2 PM Central and the Radioactive Waste Hearing live streamed starting at 9 Am Central on July 10th

Atomic Safety and Licensing Board judges will consider WCS’ Application for “Consolidated Interim Storage” of High-Level Radioactive Waste. The hearing may continue on to July 11th.

Important Hearing on WCS’ Dangerous High-Level Radioactive Waste Storage Proposal
Oil Companies, Environmentalists Seek to Intervene to Oppose Licensing

Waste Control Specialists (WCS) proposes to store 40,000 tons of the nation’s most deadly nuclear reactor waste in Andrews County, Texas. It would be stored above ground in dry casks. The waste consists of irradiated fuel rods from nuclear reactors, which would be transported across the country, posing risks from accidents, leaks and sabotage. Exposure to unshielded high-level radioactive waste is lethal.

A news conference will be held July 9th, the day before an important licensing hearing begins in Midland. Opponents of WCS’ proposal will discuss health, safety and economic risks and key legal arguments against storing high-level radioactive waste in Texas.

The hearing will begin July 10th at 9 AM at the Midland County Courthouse. Concerned citizens will arrive beforehand. Judges on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel will consider WCS’ application to store nuclear reactor waste from around the country for at least 40 years, a proposal that would lead to thousands of shipments. There would be no way to deal with damaged casks other than to send them back, creating additional health and safety risks.

Attorneys for Public Citizen, the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition, Sierra Club, Fasken Oil and Ranch and others seeking to become intervenors in the licensing process will raise 50 contentions, key issues of concern. More than 46,000 comments have been submitted in opposition to the proposal, the most ever received for a single NRC issue. Eight Texas counties and cities have passed resolutions opposing the plan.

Questions? Please call David Rosen at 432-634-6081.

WCS’ Legislative goals for this session have been defeated!

June 6, 2019

Bills to support WCS’ goals in the House and Senate were blocked, so proponents resorted to deceptive tactics. Ultimately, this led to a win for opponents of WCS’ radioactive waste efforts, as a result of Gov. Abbott’s veto. Unfortunately, the actions of a few Legislators to boost radioactive waste plans led to the defeat of a good domestic violence bill, SB 1804.

Rep. Poncho Nevarez brought forward the radioactive waste amendment, on a totally unrelated domestic violence bill on the 3rd and final reading on the House Floor, leaving little time to challenge it. Nevarez never used the word “radioactive” in presenting the amendment, and neither did the written amendment. This obscured the real intent of the amendment, which was getting WCS out of paying the State a 5% revenue fee on imported radioactive waste and out of paying into a clean-up fund – at a time when the company seeks to increase imports dramatically as nuclear reactors decommission. Sen. Kolkhorst could have gotten the amendment removed, but failed to do so.

Rep. Nevarez, Rep. Landgraf, Sen. Kolkhorst and WCS should all be held accountable for dooming a good bill by underhanded tactics to sneak the radioactive waste amendment through.

Here’s the Austin American Statesman article:
Abbott vetoes domestic violence bill, blames radioactive waste amendment

Federal nuclear board nixes request for hearing on New Mexico waste facility

May 7, 2019

A federal board that oversees commercial nuclear materials and licenses said Tuesday it has rejected a request by a group of opponents over a proposed nuclear waste storage site in Southern New Mexico.

Holtec International, a New Jersey-based company specializing in nuclear reactor technology, is waiting on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to approve its license for an expansive facility that could be used to hold all of the nation’s spent nuclear fuel — radioactive uranium left over from power production.

Holtec is partnering with the Eddy Lea Energy Alliance, a coalition of local government officials in Southern New Mexico.

During a three-day hearing earlier this year in Albuquerque, an unlikely alliance of critics, including environmental and anti-nuclear groups as well as a nuclear fuel technology company and an oil and gas producer, raised concerns about the project.

The Sierra Club, Beyond Nuclear Inc., Texas-based Fasken Land and Minerals Ltd. and Georgia-based NAC International Inc. were among those who petitioned the commission to hold a hearing.

Read more…