Alert... Two Bad Radioactive Waste Bills in the Texas Legislature
From Karen Hadden, Director, Sustainable Energy
& Economic Development (SEED) Coalition
Adrian Shelley, Director, Public Citizen
Former State Rep. Lon Burnam
and Tom "Smitty" Smith
Help HALT Two Bad Radioactive Waste Bills!
Rep. Landgraf's HB 2269
Tuesday, March 26
Environmental Regulation Committee
Texas Capitol, Room E1.026 at 10:30 AM or upon adjournment of the House
Sen. Seliger's SB 1021
Wednesday, March 27
Natural Resources & Economic Development Committee - Texas Capitol, Room E1.012 at 9 AM
What these bad bills do:
* Gets WCS out of paying the State of Texas 5% of their revenues, as currently required. WHY? They paid $48 million for 2012 - 2016. Our state should not give up this much needed revenue, especially when WCS has a lucrative nuclear reactor decommissioning project in the works. This equates to an unnecessary bailout, at the expense of Texas taxpayers.
* Increase the amount of curies the site can accept; which means more radioactivity
* Requires expansion of the disposal site if capacity reaches 80%. They're already licensed and able to do this. So why do they want a
to do so? Will WCS later claim they can't afford to expand and get taxpayers to pay for the
required expansion? The first pit (Phase 1) has used only 25% of capacity and overall site has used less than 2% of capacity.
* Increase the volume of radioactive waste likely to be imported - by removing the 30% cap on of imports of out-of-compact (other than Vermont and Texas) waste and allows disposal rate changes to favor more imports.
WCS has repeatedly pressured the Legislature to allow expansion of their radioactive waste empire, session after session. They're back...
These two bad bills
are coming up in the Texas House and the Senate this week. Come register against the bills. Speak if you can! Send emails and make calls as well...
The first rule of holes is... When you're in one, stop digging.
The two bills read the same - they're companion bills.
Please call these offices and ask Legislators to vote against these bills.
Ask Representatives to vote against HB 2269
Ask Senators to vote against 1021
Urge legislators to Vote NO in order to...
Protect the health and safety of Texans and the financial well-being of our state by not expanding the amount of radioactive waste coming into our state. Insist that WCS pay the state the required 5% of revenues, not get out of paying millions. The company has struggled financially.
The first rule of holes is... When you're in one, stop digging
Environmental Regulation Committee:
(author of the good bill)
Senate Natural Resources and Economic Development Committee
Brian Birdwell, Chair (R-Granbury) 512.463.0122, (Co-sponsor of bad Seliger bill)
Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills)
(author of the good bill)
Talking Points / Background
Waste Control Specialists (WCS) operates a low-level radioactive waste dump in Andrews County, Texas, at a site owned by the State of Texas. The waste buried at the Compact Facility there includes everything but the used fuel rods from nuclear reactors.
The bills are "gateway bills." WCS always seems to want more. They've applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a license to import 40,000 tons of most dangerous radioactive waste of all, the spent fuel rods from nuclear reactors around the country, which would be transported across Texas and stored above ground at WCS for decades.
The legal case is underway now.
Legislators should vote no on this bill, and oppose the requiring of an additional unnecessary and expensive pit, which could worsen WCS' previous financial woes and put the State of Texas at increased risk.
* Texas may have to take over the radioactive waste site operation or pursue closure at some point if the operator goes bankrupt or walks away from the project. Should we go back to limiting the site to just Texas and Vermont, and push for closure afterwards?
Limiting the waste coming in to Texas would help limit liability. It makes sense to limit, not expand, the importation of radioactive waste.
* WCS has a history of repeatedly pressuring the Legislature to allow expansion of their radioactive waste empire. They expanded from taking waste from two states to importing it from reactors across the whole country. Then they sought and got increases in the amount of waste they can accept and the curie limit. Every session WCS' claimed that their latest demand would ensure financial success, but it hasn't worked yet.
* Compact Commissioners have said that WCS nearly went bankrupt last year. The company has been losing $10 million annually. Now under new ownership, WCS threatens that without the passage of these bills, the company could struggle financially, which could lead to the State of Texas having to take over the site. An interim committee examined the possibility that the operator (WCS) could go under financially at some point, or simply walk away from the project.
* Cleanup costs of radioactively contaminated sites across the country have soared into the billions of dollars. New York got stuck with $2 billion for cleanup that the federal government would not cover. It's time to protect the health, safety and financial well-being of Texans.
Opposing this bill can help prevent billions of dollars in future liability and increased health and safety risks.
These bills could be coming up soon - as early as next week...
Urge Legislators to support Sen. Rodriguez' SB 1753 and Rep. Blanco's HB 4089
These good companion bills require:
*Analysis of the risks that might be incurred if there is a radioactive release involving low-level or high-level radioactive waste at the site or during transportation
*The development of a state contingency plan that would be needed if an operator went bankrupt or abandoned the project, or in case of a serious accident
*Independent inspection of the radioactive waste site and its operations, paid for by the operator
*Updating of the financial assurance assessment in order to protect the financial well being of the state of Texas
A state contingency plan is needed to ensure that strong financial assurance is put in place to protect Texas' financial health. Remediation costs at existing leaking federal radioactive waste sites have soared into the billions of dollars.
The federal government is unlikely to foot the entire bill if there is an accident, leak or sabotage that leads to contamination. New York got stuck with a $2 billion bill for cleaning up contamination at the West Valley site since the federal government would not cover the full remediation.
There is $142 million in financial assurance bonds now, for all the facilities at the WCS site. This is a drop in the bucket compared to what costs could be if there is radioactive contamination on or off-site.
Financial losses should not be used as an excuse to bail out a radioactive waste site operator or to cut the state out of previously promised revenues.
Unnecessary expansion should not be allowed. WCS should not be allowed to dig themselves into a deeper hole, one that Texans could inherit later.
No operator should be allowed to put the finances, health or safety of Texans at risk. Legislators should resist a private company's effort to expand imports of dangerous high-level radioactive waste for their own economic benefit, while risks to the state would increase.
If the state has to take over operations or closure of the radioactive waste site, less waste will mean less liability.
Support Sen. Rodriguez' SB 1753 and Rep. Blanco's HB 4089
Ask Texas legislators to support these good bills in order to protect public health and safety, and the financial security of our state.
Karen Hadden, Director,
Sustainable Energy & Economic
Development (SEED) Coalition
Adrian Shelley, Director, Public
Former State Rep. Lon Burnam
Tom "Smitty" Smith
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