Attorney General Jim Mattox dot his MANDATE before the election. on the Houston Chronicle editorial page. How else can the Chronicle November 3 endorsement of Welch for mayor be explained? “Louie Welch is a man of vision and responsibility,” writes the Chronicle editors well after Welch’s “shoot the queers” remark. The Houston Post, on the other hand, decried the Welch remark and endorsed Kathy Whitmire for mayor. On the night of the election, several celebrants among the Gay Political Caucus appeared in a Houston bar wearing t-shirts with bull’s eye targets on them and the words, “Louie, don’t shoot!” and “You missed, Louie!” Disposable Texas? v After a four-year search, the Site Consideration Committee of the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste officially recommended three tracts of land in far West Texas as suitable for a nuclear waste disposal facility. The sites include a 1,800-acre tract of land in northeast Culberson County and a 1,000-acre tract northeast of Fort Hancock in Hudspeth County, both owned by the Gener.al Land Office, sand a 30,000-acre tract in western Culberson County, owned by the University of Texas. The committee also approved a $300,000 contract with the University of Texas to conduct further studies on the suitability of the chosen sites. The agency’s six-member board of directors began discussion of the recommendations at a November 17 meeting, although it is not planning to select a final site before July 1987. The facility is expected to open in 1991. In February 1985 the staff of the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Dis. posal Authority proposed sites on several tracts of land in South Texas private owners. One tract belonged to L.L. Graham of McMullen County, the other to Asa Hearne of Dimmitt County. Local opposition quickly coalesced, and it is rumored that former Governor Dolph Briscoe, who owns land just two miles from Hearne’s property, played no small part in the protest. In May, the legislature passed House Bill 449, sponsored by Sen. John Traeger of Seguin and House Speaker Pro Tern Hugo Berlanga, which recommended the use of state-owned land for the new facility, sending the staff of LLRWDA back to West Texas. LLRWLIA spokesperson Torn Blackburn” describes Hudspeth County as “basically grazing land. None of is is productive at all.” Statistics provided by the Texas Departmet of Agriculture -state, hoVever, That . in 1983 Hudspeth County had t 39,000 acres of irrigated land. The County produCes significant crops of sorghum, wheat, barley, and hay. AccorCng to James Lynch, a farmer -and rancher from Hudspeth County, LLRWDA has searched extensively for suitable sites in far West Texas. He believes that the danger of exposing the underground water basin to; radioactive materials, a basin which’ stretches from West Texas to Albuquerque, New Mexico, has been ignaFed by the authorities. “It strikes me as strange,” said Lynch, “that the government, and especially Governor White, would campaign so heavily for a state water plan while, at the same time, ignoring the dangers of widvspread contamination of our water *apply. West Texas cannot survive without its water. LLRWDA, by now aware of the potential for local Aopposition to its distribute brochures on radioactive waste. to, re%idents .,of Hudspeth’ County, stuffing mailboxes with suck titles as Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal in Texas: Qeestions and’ Answers . or U.Nes of ‘.Radioactive Material. The litter, allprochure of . six pages with over 75 *cent of the, space devoted t9: -useless .drdwings t ,’ has page headings.on: “lite Qiscov-^ ery of Radiation,” “Radium,” “Medical Applications,” `.`Industrial Applications,” “Hotisehold Uses,” and ‘!Agriculture:” = The ; summary states: . . . the quality of life .’we enjoy today has been ‘greatly improved in many ways thanks to the use of radioajtive materials. The gasoline in our cars, the electricity in our homes, the food we eat these and so many more are available to us due, in part, to the useful applications of radioactive materials. The patronizing tone demonstrates an agency’s commitment to lowbrow propaganda rather than to serious public debate about the uses and dangers of radioactive materials. The brochure also sidesteps the major producer of nuclear waste, the nuclear generators which create an estimated 80 percent of low-level radioactive waste. It spends an inordinate amount of space describing the medical uses of radioactive materials, which contribute less than 15 percent of low-level waste but, obviously, a great deal to the positive image of radiation. Low-level waste includes all radioactive materials except liquid waste and fuel rods, the most highly radioact’i’ve materials created by nuclear fission. The land in Hudspeth and Culberson counties may prove less suitable than other areas in the state because it contains fractured limestone deposits and underground caves, undesirable characteristics for landfill facilitiers. Also, the presence of the water basin creates a health risk. After repeatedly denying that there were plansjo store plutonium at the low-level facility, the staff of the LLRWDA admitted, in a town meeting in Dell City. in Hudspeth, County in 1983, ghat plutonium would, in fact., be dumped at the new situ Bonnie Llynch, -,spokesperson of thel-ludspethsenviroilmental group, Alers Citizensfor environmental Safely, believesthat the three tracts of land in far West Texas were chosen out of political *expediency. `”Political opposition is`, less easily coordinated in the sparsely populated areas of the state,” she noted. J. R. 20 NOVEMBER 22, 1985
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