Andrews County Residents React to Low-Level Radioactive Waste Shipments

By Camaron Abundes   
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND- There is no red carpet but Andrews County is welcoming the first of many loads of low-level radioactive waste.

"I think for growth and the economy of Andrews and the surrounding area, it's a good thing but then you're afraid there is going to be contamination of groundwater later on because you hear those horror stories," Lois Gaither said she has mixed feelings about the news. "I don't think it's going to harm me, but maybe my children or my grandchildren what is it going to do to them down the line. You know what's it going to do to them?"

Some residents say they hope the construction of a new low-level radioactive waste dump site will promote jobs and an economic turn around.

"My husband is not working right now. It's probably going to help," Maria Banda said of the construction.

Waste Control Specialists LLC. (WCS) announced last week it would begin receiving shipments of low-level radioactive waste from Studsvik, Inc., a Tennessee based waste processor. WCS has stored this type of waste for more than a decade but now with the blessings of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), WCS is one step closer to permanently disposing of the waste. They must get final approval from the TCEQ's Compact Commission. Company officials said in a news release dated June 2, 2009: it must meet all the requirements of the low-level radioactive waste license and receive approval from the Compact Commission to dispose of the new shipment.

Despite concerns from environmental groups and a push to block a 75 million dollar bond measure aimed at assisting WCS with the construction of the new dump site many say the project will help diversify the local economy.

"There has got to be something to boost the economy," Gaither said it doesn't dissolve all of her concerns. "There is always a chance that there is going to be seepage, they can't guarantee that won't happen."

There is also another big cleanup coming to WCS. Crews in New York are working 24 hours a day, six days a week to remove six miles of soil from the Hudson River. The Environmental Protection agency is overseeing the project. The soil, contaminated with Polychlorinated Biphenals or PCBs, will soon be unloaded and disposed of in Andrews County at the site.