Andrews County Gets Green Light for Waste Disposal

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

The auditorium of the C.E.E.D. Building was full of regular, everyday people, as well as local, state, and national dignitaries.

The overwhelming majority of those in attendance applauded the state's decision to let the waste disposal proceed in Andrews County.

According to Congressman Mike Conaway, "They've embraced the issue.  They understand that it is for the future of America, it is an important segment of the energy generation, capacity, as well as a lot of other things."

Conaway praised Andrews County for it's part in making WCS feel welcome.

While the words, nuclear waste make many people nervous, Conaway says, it's the wave of the future, "If you look at America's electricity needs over the next hundred years, we're going to have to have nuclear power as the bulk, as the backbone of that particular grid.  We're going to have to overcome some irrational hesitation about the nuclear power industry, in order to get that done."

WCS has been in the Permian Basin for over 10 years.   It's been only recently that the idea of a waste disposal site in our own backyard, has drawn so much attention.   WCS President Rod Baltzer says they've never had anything to hide, "We've been very much about open participation, transparency, what's going on with the process, where are we at, what's going on?  We don't want to hide anything.  We've got a great site."

But many don't realize, nuclear power has been in the Lone Star State for a while, and it's expected to grow, and according to Baltzer, increasing the need for sites like the one in Andrews County, "We have four reactors in Texas right now.  We anticipate that more will be added.  We need a place for them to be able to dispose their waste, have a consistent place where that can be done, and they can have the confidence that it will be open while they're here."

Dr. Bob Holt is an Associate Professor at the University of Mississippi, and has been working on this project for about two years.   He spoke about the threat of contaminating the water supply, "The Ogalala Aquifer does not underlie the site. The conditions of the site are dry.  The hydrology of the site indicates that there's going to be no vertical movement of water from the site itself into the underlying aquifers."

Congressman Conaway also said a project like this is a good boom for the West Texas economy.   It also allows WCS to show how responsible, well handled operations, can meet the need we have, with respect to the nuclear industry.