Groups aim to halt Texas nuclear waste facility

Groups aim to halt Texas nuclear waste facility
© Getty Images

Four environmental and public policy groups are looking to block a proposed nuclear waste depository in Texas. 

The groups — Beyond Nuclear, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Public Citizen and the Sustainable Energy & Economic Development Coalition — wrote a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission this week asking the board to stop reviewing a license application for the waste site in Andrews County, Texas. 

ADVERTISEMENT

A company called Waste Control Specialists is aiming to build a storage facility for up to 40,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel at the site, and has asked the federal government to assume control of the waste and ship it there. It is currently seeking a license for holding up to 5,000 metric tons of waste. 

The groups opposing the site said they are concerned it could turn into a “de facto” permanent storage facility for nuclear waste, especially given the protracted battle over a long-term storage site at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. 

“Texans do not consent to the risky plan to store high-level radioactive waste at private sites on an open pad above ground in Texas,” said Tom Smith, the director of the Public Citizen Texas office, in a statement. 

The storage site “likely would create a de facto high level national waste sacrifice zone. This proposal invites disaster because the private owners will be cutting costs at every turn to maximize profits. If there was radioactive contamination our land, air, water, and human health could be harmed for millennia.”

The nuclear energy industry has long grappled with the question of how to store its spent fuel, a problem that often percolates among regulators and lawmakers. 

Industry groups support the proposed Andrews County facility, which they hope will go online by 2020. In an op-ed in The Hill last year, an executive at nuclear power company Areva Inc. called the facility “a cost-effective, community-supported, near-term solution” to nuclear waste storage issues.