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Texas lawmakers want to ban dangerous radioactive waste.

Texas lawmakers want to ban dangerous radioactive waste.

Texas lawmakers want to ban dangerous radioactive waste.    The proposal would give a nuclear waste company a big financial break.

A bill advancing in the House seeks to ban spent nuclear fuel, one of the most dangerous types of radioactive waste, from coming to Texas.

TEXAS TRIBUNE, BY ERIN DOUGLAS APRIL 8, 2021  As a nuclear waste company’s plan to store the most dangerous type of radioactive waste in West Texas moves forward at the federal level, state lawmakers are aiming to ban the materials from entering the state.

Environmental and consumer advocates for years have decried a proposal to build a 332-acre site in West Texas near the New Mexico border to store the riskiest type of nuclear waste: spent fuel rods from nuclear power plants, which can remain dangerously radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years.

A bill advancing in the House, filed by Rep. Brooks Landgraf, R-Odessa, whose district includes Andrews County — where the proposed facility would be located — seeks to stop the plan by banning that type of radioactive waste from being disposed of or stored in Texas.

But House Bill 2692 would also give that same company a big break on state fees it pays for its existing disposal facility for lower-risk radioactive waste.

“This bill bans high-level waste altogether,” Landgraf said during a committee hearing in March, “and focuses on making low-level waste the safest and best, most competitive and most efficient facility it can be.”

Waste Control Specialists has been disposing of the nation’s low-level nuclear waste, including tools, building materials and protective clothing exposed to radioactivity, for a decade in Andrews County. The company is currently pursuing, with a partner, a federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission license to store spent nuclear fuel on a site adjacent to its existing facility.

Waste Control Specialists and Interim Storage Partners — a joint venture between WCS and Orano USA, a subsidiary of one of the world’s biggest nuclear power companies — declined to comment on the proposed bill through a spokesperson.

Interim Storage Partners applied for the license in 2016. Scientists agree that spent nuclear fuel, which is currently stored at nuclear power plants, should be stored deep underground, but the U.S. still hasn’t located a suitable site. The Interim Storage Partners plan proposes storing it in above-ground casks until a permanent location is found. It expects federal regulators to make a decision sometime this year.

The plan faces stiff opposition from Gov. Greg Abbott, some oil companies that operate in the region and environmentalists over concerns about the risk of groundwater contamination and transportation accidents. Abbott wrote to federal regulators last year asking them to deny the license application, stating that the proposal presents a “greater radiological risk than Texas is prepared to allow.”………

The facility currently accepts Class A, B and C radioactive waste, which typically includes a wide range of contaminated items such as radioactive gloves, shoe covers and medical tubes. Some environmental and consumer advocates asked Landgraf to also include a ban on “greater than Class C” waste in his bill as well — it falls into what nuclear waste experts call a gray area between the lower-level categories and spent nuclear fuel. That type of waste is currently banned by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission may soon consider regulations that would allow WCS to accept that waste.

Landgraf said he chose not to include a ban on that type of waste in the bill because it is technically not considered “high level” by the federal government, although it is currently treated that way for disposal purposes. Nuclear waste experts have told the Tribune that this category can be wide ranging, both in terms of danger and the time it will remain radioactive………….


April 10, 2021 - Posted by | USA, wastes

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