Yesterday, the Texas House gave final approval to Senate Bill 1504, which would open up the Waste Control Specialists (WCS) dump in Andrews County to imports of radioactive waste from up to 36 states — that is, beside radioactive waste from the originally planned two – Texas and Vermont. The bill will help one corporation WCS which has spent millions on lobbying, to earn huge profits from radioactive waste disposal while Texas taxpayers bear the liability, health and environmental damages, and future clean-up of the site. Read the basics about why this dump is such an awful idea here and the more deeply researched version by Forrest Wilder in the Texas Observer here.
Governor Perry, to whom WCS owner Harold Simmons paid $1.2 million, will likely sign the bill into law effectively turning Texas into the nation’s radioactive waste disposal site. According to Andrew Wheat with Lobby Watch an online publication of Texans for Public Justice, Harold Simmons WCS influence over the legislators came at a much cheaper price tag totalling only $182,350. That’s not much to pay at all for making Texas the nation’s radioactive waste dump. And WCS has so much to gain! See the breakdown of Simmons donations per vote here.
Some Tried to Fix the Horrible Bill. Good provisions added to the originally filed bill include a review of financial assurance, a study of the capacity of the site to take wastes from more states than just Texas and Vermont, and a change advocated by Sierra Club to require the operator to obtain a license amendment before waste imports may begin.
Cyrus Reed with Sierra Club said —
Despite other good amendments proposed on the House floor today – an amendment by Rep. Harvey Hildebran on a review of the surcharge on out-of-compact wastes and a cap on profits, an amendment by Rep. Pete Gallego to study the transportation impacts of the imported waste, and an amendment by Rep. Jose Menendez to require the capacity study before any waste imports could occur – the author and a majority of House members refused to improve the bill with those proposed changes. At the end of the day, the profits of one company – Waste Control Specialists – won out over common sense and the health and safety of Texans.
Karen Hadden with SEED Coalition said —
In an act of utter disgrace to Texas, 108 House members voted in favor of allowing radioactive waste from around the country to be dumped in Texas. They should have instead limited the site to Texas and Vermont waste. The SB 1504 vote shows many Representativesʼ disregard for health and safety and their willingness to pander to a Dallas billionaire and his waste empire. It is disgusting to see supposedly educated legislators vote down basic amendments that would allow a study of transportation risks and whether emergency responders are trained and equipped to deal with an accident involving radioactive waste.
Other legislators, including Representatives Lon Burnam, Jose Menendez, Roberto Alonzo and Pete Gallego deserve huge credit for trying to improve the bill, but overall, money ruled the day instead of common sense and decency.
Find more information the SB 1504 by searching the bill number at http://www.capitol.state.tx.us.
Remember to phone and Thank the Legislators who voted No! to SB 1504. And call to complain if your Legislator voted YES on making Texas the nation’s radioactive waste dump.
Thank you! Donna Hoffman, Communications Coordinator, Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club