by Victor Lopez
ANDREWS COUNTY--It's the only facility in the nation, licensed in the last 30 years to dispose of class A, B and C level radioactive waste.
Congressman Mike Conaway got a first hand look at how the facility is progressing and what they have planned for the future.
"We're thinking about golf courses on top of some of the stuff you've done and a resort kind of thing, once you've got all this stuff buried and contained that will make use of that surface," Conaway said.
Mr. Conaway was obviously joking when he talked about making a resort out of a radioactive waste dump site. But he was very serious when he talked about the importance of this type of facility in West Texas, specifically Andrews County.
"It's one of the top ten counties in Texas in oil and gas production. The fact that the community, you and your colleagues throughout Andrews have looked at the future and said, 'oil and gas may run out one of these days.' Maybe not in our lifetime but in order to prosper this part of the world, we've got to use the natural assets that we've got," Conaway said.
In addition to the already existing dump sites, WCS is ready to start construction on a low level disposal site this May, a project that will create over 100 temporary jobs and another 60-70 permanent ones.
"You're a piece of that really important economic development that will help Andrews County be prosperous for a long time," Conaway told WCS employees.
During his tour, the Congressman was shown sites that have already been designated for future expansion. But it was later, when he met with some the employees, that he showed his support of this facility.
"Thanks for what you do. I appreciate your attitude toward this issue and making this part of West Texas more profitable and more prosperous than it might have otherwise been, were we just reliant on oil and gas production," Conaway told WCS employees.
Officials say it's through a combination of factors and overwhelming community support that in 2010, WCS will be able to provide a Texas Solution to a national problem.
Congressman Conaway believes in giving credit where credit is due, "These guys have got a tough job. They've got to do it very well, and they've got to do it very well, darn near 100% of the time. I'm not bashful, at all, about bragging on what the folks at Waste Control do, day in and day out and the future for this facility."