Statement: Federal regulators make wrong decision in allowing new nuclear waste site in Texas

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Dumping ground will put Texans at tremendous risk

Environment Texas

AUSTIN, Texas — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved a private company’s plan Monday to store nuclear waste in West Texas’ Permian Basin. The announcement marks the latest decision in the continuing saga of determining where to store spent fuel from U.S. nuclear power plants.

The NRC said the agency “authorizes the company to receive, possess, transfer and store up to 5,000 metric tons of spent fuel and 231.3 metric tons of Greater-Than-Class C low-level radioactive waste for 40 years. The company has said it plans to expand the facility in seven additional phases, up to a total capacity of 40,000 metric tons of fuel. Each expansion would require a license amendment with additional NRC safety and environmental reviews.”

According to the Government Accountability Office’s estimate, America’s fleet of nuclear reactors has produced an estimated 80,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel without a long-term storage plan. At the same time, these reactors are adding 2,000 metric tons of additional waste annually.”. 

Environment Texas is an affiliate of Environment America.

Luke Metzger, executive director of Environment Texas, issued the following statement:

“For so many reasons, Texas cannot become America’s nuclear waste dumping ground. 

“Shipping half of the nation’s radioactive waste to Texas would expose communities across America to a dangerous game of radioactive roulette. These shipments could expose truck drivers and everyday highway travelers to radiation — not to mention transportation accidents can and do happen. America shouldn’t risk a mobile Chernobyl by transporting nuclear waste on the nation’s roads, rails and waterways.

“This is an inherently high-risk process. The concrete casks the company proposes to use to transport radioactive waste would be among the heaviest loads transported on America’s roads, rails and waterways. These heavy loads would stress the integrity of our already degraded infrastructure, making accidents even more likely.

“Beyond that, the math doesn’t add up with this deal. A 40-year arrangement to store spent nuclear reactor fuel that remains harmful for thousands of years just kicks the can down the road — and doesn’t kick it very far. What happens after 40 years? Will we ship the waste back to where it came from or will Texas be left holding the bag?

“At a time when America — and Texas, in particular — has an abundance of renewable energy technologies like wind and solar, federal regulators shouldn’t saddle our state with the lion’s share of the nation’s nuclear waste. Texas is the nation’s largest producer of wind power. We’re moving toward renewable energy and turning our back on nuclear power, and the waste that comes with it. 

We keep asking the question: What should we do with waste that’s deadly for thousands of generations? The only rational answer must be that we should not produce it in the first place.”