By Jen Kastner
ANDREWS- An radioactive waste dumping site in Andrews is accused of putting lives at risk. State Representative Lon Burnam announced he's gotten his hands on documents from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality indicating groundwater has been found in a buffer zone around the site, creating a situation that he says could potentially sicken people.
The papers were handed over after he filed an open records request but TCEQ made him sign a confidentiality agreement, so he can't share the reports with anyone.
Burnam is not ok with that.
"I have finally become frustrated enough that we've made this request to the Attorney General's Office [so] we'd be allowed to make this information public," Burnam said.
Waste Control Specialist's is outraged. In an email to NewsWest 9 they state, "From a geologic point of view, the WCS disposal site is one of the most geologically studied, characterized and analyzed spots on the planet. Lon is flat wrong to assert otherwise."
They say nearly a decade ago they discovered a small pool of water 30 feet underground, right next to the dumping site. They claimed they immediately notified TCEQ and proved the water was isolated, meaning it was not connected to any other water sources.
WCS says the state representative has visited their site in Andrews on numerous occasions and never once has he brought up the concerns he's now expressing in the middle of a bitter primary election campaign.
They state, "This is nothing more than a political stunt by a desperate candidate likely to lose an election."
Burnam denies the allegation. "For them to assert that it's political because I've got an election coming up just is a red herring on their part," he says.
He's hoping the Attorney General's Office lets the public see for themselves what's inside these controversial documents.
"One should be asking, 'What is it that the public doesn't have a right to know about documents produced by government employees of something concerning such great importance from a health and safety standpoint?'," he said.
WCS's site is scheduled to open by the end of April but they are still waiting for final approval from TCEQ.