ANDREWS, Texas — High-level nuclear waste will not be making its way to the Permian Basin. That’s the case following a ruling on Friday in favor of the State of Texas against the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, or NRC, vacating a license that would have made it possible.
For those in the Permian Basin, it appears there is excitement about the ruling. This is a fight that goes back a couple of years, and with the help of both the area and state as a whole, West Texans can have peace of mind.
High-level nuclear waste shipped by freight and rail will not be a reality.
“You’re not going to have to deal with…10,000 canisters of the most deadly material on the planet rolling through communities," said Monica Perales, a member of the legal team for the Permian Basin Coalition of Land and Royalty Owners and Corporate Counsel for Fasken Oil and Ranch.
For the Permian Basin, that is now the reality.
“The Permian Basin’s often a part of the United States that’s very overlooked," Brock McNeel, an assitant with the legal department of the Permian Basin Coalition of Land and Royalty Owners, said. "We’re small, we’re pretty rural but we contribute a huge amount of capital to the U.S. economy. And so, to have this ruling really reflect that and reflect our importance, really is very key to the development of our area and just our safety in general.”
Safety from high-level nuclear waste that has impacts worldwide.
“Putting that by one of the largest sources of energy security in the United States – which is the Permian Basin – makes it a prime source for terrorist attacks and acts of terrorism," McNeel said. "If you want to knock out the United States and knock out our energy, you strike the Permian Basin, and having nuclear waste here makes that so much easier. There would be a 50-mile kill radius around that Andrews site if there was high-level nuclear waste there, and we don’t have the infrastructure to deal with that. So many people would be affected, and so bringing it here really is a threat to all of our lives.”
The legal team for the Permian Basin Coalition of Land and Royalty Owners helped get support from the area, like a resolution against the high-level nuclear waste by Andrews County.
“The fifth circuit, they did uphold what the citizens of Andrews had requested from us – the commissioner’s court – and they upheld the state law that was put in place during that time that was introduced by Brooks Landgraf and it was approved by the senate and the house and it was signed by our governor," said Charlie Falcon, the Andrews County judge.
That state law is House Bill 7, which was put into place two years ago. The law prohibits high-level nuclear waste in the State of Texas, helping to determine this ruling and shape the future of the Permian Basin.
“This puts us in a good place for not being forced to do something that we don’t want to do, but we still have the ability to engage in the type of activities and industries that are safe and that we know that we’re good at here in the Permian Basin," Brooks Landgraf, State Representative for Odessa and a Republican serving House District 81, said. "So, I think this does leave us in a really good spot.”
NewsWest 9 was able to speak with the NRC, and they said they were reviewing the ruling with no further comment. Perales noted that as the NRC continues its efforts, they will keep fighting to keep high-level nuclear waste out of Texas and the Permian Basin.