Andrews Residents Adjusting to WCS Radioactive Waste Site
By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

ANDREWS - It's official. Low-level radioactive waste has found a new home in West Texas.

On Friday, Waste Control Specialists received its first delivery at their site in Andrews County, a 55-drum barrel of medical waste from a lab in Texas.

It's an issue that was controversial from the beginning but many Andrews residents have learned to live with it.

"The government is gonna do this and it's gonna be done and there's nothing you can really do about it," resident, Sean McGee, said.

After a few years in the making, the WCS site is finally up and running for business.

On Friday, medical waste from Texas made its way to Andrews.

This first delivery marks the latest milestone in a lengthy fight between government agencies and local residents, many of whom didn't want the site anywhere near Andrews.

"If I had my choice in the matter, no I'd rather not take that chance," McGee said.

But plenty of people NewsWest 9 spoke with say they can deal with the new operations.

"I'm not nervous for my child, I'm not nervous for the people," McGee said. "If it wasn't safe they wouldn't do it. That's how I feel about it."

It's a feeling that has changed for some since this multi-million dollar project first began.

Environmentalists have long argued the low-level radioactive waste poses a threat to groundwater.

But resident Rickie Lloyd disagrees.

"I've drilled out there a lot and the water table is way lower now," Lloyd said. "I think it's alright, I think it's gonna be ok."

Friday's first disposal is inside a 55-gallon metal drum that was put in a 10-foot-tall concrete cylinder.

According to WCS spokesman Chuck McDonald, the disposal pit is 600 feet deep, with 7-foot-thick steel and concrete flooring and walls.

PJ Lewis said he isn't worried either, he said he interned at WCS back in high school.

"I know it's safe and I know they're taking every precaution to do whatever they have to do to make it safe for this little town here," Lewis said.

Thirty-eight states will be sending their waste to Andrews.

In past public hearings, residents said they were concerned about how that waste would get here.

"We need bigger highways in Andrews, with the oilfield the way it is, you know the traffic is getting a lot bigger," Lewis said. "Andrews is growing enormously."

Others said accidents are bound to happen no matter the situation, but regardless of those who like it or not, WCS is here to stay.

There were a few residents NewsWest 9 talked to who are still unhappy with the site but they declined to go on camera.