Meeting Held to Discuss How to Transport Radioactive Waste Across State Lines

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - Controversy is swirling around a radioactive waste disposal site in Andrews County.

The Texas Compact Commission voted to revise and publish rules about the transportation of the waste across state lines.

People from all sides of the debate showed up, but now the concern has taken a new turn.

As of right now, only Texas and Vermont were a part of this deal.

But if these rules go into effect, 36 more states can petition to have their waste sent here too.

"If the rules are going to change for WCS, I need to know now, so that I can prepare for the future," Rose Gardner, who opposes the new rules, said.

Rose Gardner lives in Eunice, New Mexico on a ranch she calls home, but just five miles away in Andrews County is the future home of a radioactive waste disposal site.

The Texas Compact Commission voted on Saturday to move forward with rules outlining exactly how to get all that waste here, a process they claim will have little or no effect to other drivers out on the freeways.

"This stuff is transported in a very safe and secure fashion, but that is an issue that's been brought up, it has been looked at and we feel like the appropriate safeguards are in place," Waste Control Specialists Spokesman, Chuck McDonald, said.

But several others NewsWest 9 spoke with at the meeting on Saturday say they're not sold.

"There's going to be nuclear waste transported all across the county and that is a real concern for me because I am scared of radioactivity and what it can do if it's not controlled properly," Gardner said.

If these rules are adopted, 36 other states can request for their waste to be moved to the Permian Basin.

Other protesters argue that Waste Control Specialists, the company in charge of the disposal site, is misleading the public.

"When everybody was talked into this, it was believed that the dump would be limited to bringing in waste from Vermont and Texas," Tom Smith, Director of Public Citizen Texas Office, said. "Now what is happening is we're opening our doors to a flood gate of waste from all over the United States."

McDonald disagrees.

"One of the strengths of this project is the extensive public education and participation," McDonald said.

McDonald added although the proposed rules will allow 36 other states to petition their waste to be sent here, they'll all be considered case by case.

"It doesn't authorize anything, it just sets up a process whereby they can look at requests for inputting waste," he said.

But for others, they said it's just not enough.

"We all depend on WCS on doing what they've promised to do," Gardner said. "They've had violations in the past. It's hard to trust people like that."