July 27, 2021
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is expected to release a Safety Analysis and final version of the Environmental Impact Statement for a proposed nuclear waste site in Andrews County by the end of this month, according to activism group Beyond Nuclear.
Kevin Kamps with Beyond Nuclear told the Reporter-Telegram the NRC has told the group those reports will be released in July. After those reports are made public, the NRC will decide whether to approve Waste Control Specialists’ application to store high-level nuclear waste.
Kamps said the NRC will likely make a decision on that application in mid-September.
“Somewhere in there, hopefully sooner rather than later, our side will get its day in federal court on all our appeals,” he said in an email.
Beyond Nuclear, SEED Coalition, Sierra Club, Fasken Oil and a coalition of oil royalty owners have filed suit against the NRC in the hopes of preventing the Andrews site and other proposed sites; appeals of those cases are in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Washington, D.C., Circuit, according to Kamps.
Numerous local leaders have spoken out against the proposed Andrews site, including representatives from Fasken Oil and Ranch and the Midland County Commissioners’ Court. Gov. Greg Abbott and U.S. Rep. August Pfluger have also vocalized opposition to storing high-level waste in Andrews.
Andrews County Commissioners came out against the project as well, voting on July 15 to sign a resolution stating their opposition to the storage of high-level nuclear waste in the county. The commissioners faced pressure from residents during two packed Commissioners’ Court meetings.
Andrews County Judge Charlie Falcon noted during the July 15 meeting that the resolution would not necessarily affect the NRC’s decision.
WCS, in partnership with Interim Storage Partners, filed an application in 2016 to store high-level nuclear waste in Andrews County for 40 years before the waste would be moved to a permanent repository.
The NRC released a draft Environmental Impact Statement in May of 2020 regarding the application to open a high-level waste site. In that report, NRC staff recommended approval of the application, stating that the impact of constructing and operating a waste site at the proposed location was found to be minimal.
Caitlin Randle is a general news reporter for the Midland Reporter-Telegram.