The Waste Control Specialists site near Andrews PHOTO COURTESY OF WCS po yin w it I NTEL”‘ 01 Bringing EERGY the Heat “They’re looking the other waif whip !Ain iiiipui radioactive waste from around the country, and possibly the world ” WASTE CONTROL SPECIALISTS, A RADIOACTIVE-WASTE company owned by major Texas GOP financier Harold Simmons, appears to be defying state regula tors by importing canisters of nuclear waste from out of state. So far, the amount is not hugeabout 300 cubic feet. But the brazen move appears to be part of WCS’s plan to turn Andrews County into the nation’s new dumping ground for radioactive waste. Waste Control already has permission to bury 60 million cubic feet of radioactive waste from Texas, Vermont and federal sources. But the company has said it will seek permission to import and bury radioactive materials from the 36 states that lack a disposal option. Critics see the current importation of out-of-state waste without permission as a backdoor attempt to speed the process. Once the waste is stored on site, the thinking goes, it’s unlikely to ever be sent away. The handful of environmental and citizen groups aware of the issue are furious with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the agency that regulates radioactive waste. “TCEQ is asleep at the wheel,” says Eliza Brown of the SEED Coalition, an environmental nonprofit. “They’re failing to enforce their own rules and looking the other way while WCS imports radioactive waste from around the country; and possibly the world.” Beginning in early 2008, TCEQ repeatedly told Waste Control that it needed permission before accepting canisters of Class B and C wastethe “hottest” of so-called low-level radioactive wastefrom Studsvik Inc., a Tennessee waste processor. Even if the agency eventually okayed the plan, the waste could be stored for no more than a year, according to agency records. In 2008, Waste Control agreed to submit safety and security plans as part of a major amendment to its license that would allow the storage. But the company never filed for a license amendment. Last February, Waste Control CEO Rod Baltzer told the Observer that the company had determined that it could already import out-of-state waste and would begin doing so in March or April. TCEQ said it was unaware of any such plans. Evidently the agency found out. On May 20, TCEQ sent a letter to the company saying it had “not made a determination that acceptance of [the waste] is authorized,” and warning that Waste Control “maybe subject READ THE AGENCY DOCUMENTS mentioned in this story at www.texas observer.org/uploads/files/ WCSLetters.pdf 2 THE TEXAS OBSERVER WWW.TEXASOBSERVER.ORG
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