June 30th 2016

By Julia Deng, Reporter
KXXV News

KXXV video

Waste Control Specialists has until late July to submit the information omitted in their initial license application. (Source: KWES)

ANDREWS COUNTY, TX (KWES) – Federal regulators declined to review a license application submitted by Waste Control Specialists (WCS) for a high-level nuclear waste facility in Andrews County, records revealed.

WCS, a Dallas-based company with a nearly 15,000-acre site in western Andrews County, filed the application with plans to expand its existing low-level radioactive waste site.

The proposed facility would house spent fuel rods from nuclear reactors across the country for at least 40 years.

However, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) officials determined the company’s license application lacked "sufficient technical information"and safety-related details, according to a letter dated June 22 from the commission to WCS.

"There may have been some things that we needed to get them,"explained Chuck McDonald, a spokesman for the company. "We didn’t give them the proper information the first time around, but our technical folks have looked through the NRC’s letter and we’re confident that we’ll be able to get them all the additional information that they need by their July 28th [deadline]."

The application submitted by WCS failed to include appropriate emergency plans and adequate information about how accidents involving radioactive waste storage casks could be prevented, among other safety- and security-related details, according to a 30-page "Request for Supplemental Information and Observations"from regulators.

"Why should we trust a company that can’t get its paperwork complete to safely construct and operate a facility that could hold up to 40,000 metric tons of lethal nuclear reactor waste for 40 or more years?” said Tom Smith, regional director for Public Citizen, a non-profit safety advocacy group. "This isn’t just a paperwork issue. It’s a serious safety issue."

McDonald, an Austin resident, said he "would have no concerns at all"about living near the facility.

"In 50 years of transporting nuclear waste around the country, there has never – as in zero – been an accident that resulted in the release of radioactive material,"he said.

WCS has until late July to respond with the required application materials.

If sufficient information cannot be submitted, officials said, the application ultimately may not be accepted for review.

"The incomplete WCS license application reflects disregard for people around Texas who would be put at radioactive risk,” Smith said. "Andrews County should rescind their approval of this project and only reconsider it if and when WCS can prove they can handle this waste safely.”

Andrews County officials did not immediately return calls for comment.

Copyright 2016 KWES. All rights reserved.

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