RadWaste Monitor Vol. 14 No. 27
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RadWaste Monitor
Article 5 of 6
July 09, 2021

Host County Execs in Texas Undecided About Interim Storage Site After Community Meeting

By Benjamin Weiss

The executive of a Texas county slated to host a proposed interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel said Wednesday that the county commission may vote to take a public stance on the project following a community meeting earlier this week.

While the Andrews County, Texas Commissioners’ Court can vote to pen a letter of resolution to support or oppose the proposed Waste Control Specialists (WCS) interim storage facility, no such proceeding had taken place at deadline, Judge Charlie Falcon told RadWaste Monitor via phone Wednesday. 

A member of the five-person court would have to move for a vote and the proceeding would be scheduled for a regular weekly meeting or a special session, Falcon said. Until that vote takes place, Falcon wouldn’t comment on whether the court would support or oppose the site. The Commissioner’s Court usually holds regular weekly meetings on Tuesdays, according to the county’s website.

On Tuesday this week, the Commissioners’ Court held a public meeting to collect community input on WCS’s proposal, which is currently under federal licensing review. Of the “seven or eight” public comments the court heard around six of them opposed the site, Falcon said. 

Of the Andrews County residents that spoke against the interim storage site Tuesday, Falcon said that some of them “agree[d] with the WCS operations going on right now — they just [did] not agree with the storage of high-level waste.” WCS currently runs a low-level waste disposal facility in Andrews County and stores some transuranic waste for the Department of Energy.

As part of a team called Interim Storage Partners, WCS is working with nuclear services company Orano USA to secure a license to store high-level waste, including spent nuclear fuel, at the existing west-Texas site.

In Texas, debate about the proposed WCS site will remain at the county level, for now. The state legislature adjourned in May without passing either chamber’s version of a proposed bill that would have banned the storage of high-level waste in Texas. The House-side measure, introduced in March by state Rep. Brooks Landgraf (R), was kicked back to committee on a procedural motion. The state Senate didn’t even debate its version of the bill. State delegates won’t return to Austin until 2023.

Meanwhile, the proposed Interim Storage Partners site is nearing an important licensing milestone. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has said that a final environmental impact statement for the site should be coming in the next few weeks.

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