ANDREWS The proposed installation of a high-level nuclear waste repository alongside the low-level plant 30 miles west of here is prompting criticism, support and caution from officials including Congressman Mike Conaway, State Sen. Kel Seliger and State Rep. Brooks Landgraf.
In a joint venture, Waste Control Specialists of Dallas and Orano USA, a subsidiary of the French company Orano, have formed the Andrews-based Interim Storage Partners Inc. and applied to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to start taking radioactive fuel rods with a half-life of 24,000 years from nuclear power plants.
The WCS facility is on 1,338 acres and the companies own 14,900 acres on which to expand near Eunice, N.M. The NRC expects to come to a decision by May 2021.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott wrote to the NRC and U.S. Energy Department in April last year, saying in part, “Actions taken by the DOE and NRC could allow for the disposal of more highly radioactive waste in Texas without approval by our state.
“The federal government should allow states with disposal sites for low-level radioactive waste to accept or reject such changes rather than forcing them to take on increased hazards.” Abbott said. “At this time, I oppose any increase in the amount or concentration of radioactivity authorized for disposal at the facility in Andrews County.
“Texas is ready to work cooperatively with our federal partners to safely manage the use and disposal of radioactive materials. In the spirit of that relationship, please consider measures to allow for state approval of any changes you would propose.”
However, Conaway said through a Washington spokeswoman Aug. 4 that he supports the plan because the citizens of Andrews do. “The community of Andrews strongly supports the project and is already home to a licensed, established waste facility with a proven track record of…
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