Sept 24, 2020
Nuclear waste could travel through Dallas-Fort Worth if West Texas plan is approved
By Haley Samsel
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
If approved by federal regulators, at least 5,000 tons of high-level nuclear waste from across the U.S. could travel through the Metroplex on its way to a West Texas storage facility that already stores low-level radioactive materials.
High-level nuclear waste refers to spent, or used, reactor fuel and waste materials that exist after the used fuel is reprocessed for disposal. The radioactive waste poses potentially harmful effects to humans and only decreases in radioactivity through decay, which can take hundreds of thousands of years, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the federal agency that regulates nuclear power plants and the storage and disposal of waste.
Activists who oppose the West Texas plan say the impact will not be limited to residents of Andrews County, where the toxic waste site owned by Waste Control Specialists already sits near the Texas-New Mexico border. The commission is considering a similar plan for a high-level waste storage facility in southeastern New Mexico, brought forward by the nuclear company Holtec.
Pandemic Allows for New Front in Fight Against Southwest Nuclear Waste Storage Contracts
July 10, 2020
Two proposals to send high-level spent nuclear fuel to sites in Texas and New Mexico are seeing renewed opposition as environmental activists, the oil and gas industry and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have formed an unlikely and informal alliance leveraging the pandemic as a reason to delay.
The proposed Texas and New Mexico facilities — which are licensed by Interim Storage Partners LLC (a joint venture of Orano USA and Waste Control Specialists) and Holtec International, respectively — have applications under review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for consolidated interim storage facilities intended to serve as temporary repositories for high-level nuclear waste from all over the country.
The ISP facility already stores low-level waste, but the proposals would expand its license to store high-level waste, which is exponentially more radioactive, for at least 40 years. The Holtec facility would be built on undeveloped land; both facilities are located in the Permian Basin, home to more than 7,000 oil and gas fields.
May 07, 2020
Federal officials recommend storage of nuclear waste in West Texas
By Jakob Brandenburg
WEST TEXAS — The federal government has taken another step toward storing the nation’s nuclear waste in West Texas.
This week, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission released a report recommending the approval for radioactive waste to be transported across Texas, and stored in Andrews County.
The existing facility near the Texas-New Mexico Border is operated by Waste Control Specialists, and a joint venture called Interim Storage Partners hopes to bring the nation’s high-level nuclear waste to the facility.
May 6, 2020
Feds Give Thumbs-Up to West Texas Nuclear Waste Plan
Karen Hadden, who leads the environmental advocacy group SEED Coalition and has fought the proposal for years, described the commission’s review as “woefully inadequate.”
“The NRC does not seem to be taking health and safety and security concerns seriously,” she said in an interview. “They’re just trying to ram this project though and it’s putting us at risk. There could be accidents, there could be leaks, there could be hijacking of radioactive material.”
April 1, 2020
Opponents of nuke site near Carlsbad call for delay on permitting amid COVID-19 outbreak
Opponents of a proposed nuclear waste storage facility near Carlsbad and Hobbs sought to delay the facility’s federal licensing process, arguing the COVID-19 outbreak would make public hearings on the matter unsafe.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and other governors across the country enacted public health orders in recent weeks, calling on residents to stay in their homes amid the pandemic.
A coalition of 50 environmental and Native American groups wrote a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Tuesday urging the NRC – the federal regulatory agency considering the application for license – to extend the public comment period for a facility proposed by Holtec International from 60 to 199 days.
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.
- Report to Congress and DOE on transport of high-level radioactive waste details serious technical hurdles.
Sept. 2019 study by Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board
- Contention that SEED Coalition filed on Oct. 23, 2019 with the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board.
- Expert testimony of Bob Alvarez in support of the contention.
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.
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.