Here’s the news:
A Texas commission Tuesday set in motion the importation of low-level radioactive-waste from 36 other states, a move long sought by the nuclear-energy industry and long opposed by environmentalists.
The disposal site near Andrews, Texas, is managed by Waste Control Specialists (WCS) and is licensed to process, store and dispose of low-level and mixed low-level radioactive waste (LLRW). Waste Control Specialists became the first American company in 30 years permitted to dispose of Class A, B and C LLRW when the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality granted it a license in 2009. (Others are Barnwell in South Carolina and Energy Solutions in Utah, which each provide similar services for groups, or compacts, of states).
See here for the NRC’s definition of what is represented by the different classes of waste.
Since its inception, the site has been used to dispose of waste from Texas and Vermont (and Maine, too, for awhile), and Vermont still retains exclusive control of 20% of the site’s capacity as part of the deal to allow Texas to take in material from other states.
Why do this now? The answer appears to be economic.
"If the compact site is not economically viable there's no place for that waste to go," [Waste Control spokesman Chuck McDonald] said.
The compact refers to Texas and Vermont, which administer the site together. McDonald isn’t precisely correct – there are other sites – and the two states would doubtless ensure the site’s financial viability - but one gets his point, which is that there is plenty of interest in using the site by other states. As long as there are no safety issues, why shouldn’t Waste Control Specialists want to take it on? It’s what they do.
[McDonald] said that Texas regulators already deemed the site safe, and thus granted a license for the project.
So there you go. I won’t pretend this move is free of controversy – the story gets into that – though a lot of it seems the usual stuff slung around by activist groups as well as the unique qualities of Texas politics. You can judge all that for yourself.
But providing this facility to 38 states in total can only be called a very positive move.
The headline for the Texas story from the objective minds at NPR: Commission Lets 36 States Dump Nuke Waste in Texas. Sheesh!
Welcome to Waste Control Specialists. They have their phone number on the sign if you need their services.