Waste Control Specialists' Plan for Nuclear Waste Is a Dallas Valentine for Rural Texas

The notorious radioactive waste dump in West Texas once run by late, politically-corrupt connected Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons could soon begin a new, more extreme phase of waste-dumping.

On Friday, Dallas-based Waste Control Specialists told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that the company will seek a license to temporarily -- up to 100 years -- store spent fuel rods from reactors. The idea is that the fuel would go to the company's controversial facility in Andrews County, now only permitted to hold low-level radioactive waste. But in a letter to regulators Friday, WCS announced intentions to apply for a permit that would allow storage of "highly-reactive" waste.

"Our nation needs a safe, centralized interim storage solution," WCS President Rod Baltzer told reporters Monday.

It would just be an interim storage facility, so the waste won't be there permanently. What's wrong with creating a chill, no-commitment, totally temporary nuclear waste spot while someone figures out somewhere better to bury it? The obvious answer is that there currently is no good spot like that in the United States, leaving open the possibility that the nuclear fuel at this "interim" facility would just stay there forever.

Environmentalists say a better use for all of our time is figuring out a permanent burial spot for nuclear waste and a safe way to get it there. "Currently there is no meaningful repository program" for disposing spent nuclear fuel, says Geoff Fettus, an attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council. His group proposes creating a permanent burial site at a decommissioned nuclear facility, or if an interim burial spot is necessary, to do it at a working nuclear facility, forcing the nuclear companies to deal with their own waste directly.

With no application from Waste Control Solutions officially filed yet, a potentially extra-hazardous waste spot in Andrews County could be many years away. But it seems fitting that a Dallas-based company is prepared to take an environmental risk in a part of the state that isn't Dallas. That's what we do, and this could be a good follow-up to the Luminant coal plants in East Texas run by Dallas' Energy Future Holdings, the dirty cement kilns in Midlothian once run by Dallas' TXI, and the time that Regency Energy Partners of Dallas reported 166 "emission events" at its gas processing plant in McMullen County.

Send your story tips to the author, Amy Silverstein.

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