Congressman August Pfluger of San Angelo and State Rep. Brooks Landgraf of Odessa on Tuesday protested the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Monday decision to license a high-level nuclear waste storage facility 30 miles west of Andrews near the Texas-New Mexico line.
Noting that Gov. Greg Abbot and the Texas Legislature had already expressed their strenuous opposition in a law passed Sept. 3, Pfluger said, “The decision handed down by the NRC to license a new nuclear waste storage site near Andrews is a massive blunder.
“This disappointing announcement failed to consider the lack of community support for the project — a vitally important aspect of siting nuclear waste laid out by the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future,” the congressman said from Washington. “The majority of folks who live and work in this community are vehemently opposed to this waste being stored near Andrews and not a single elected official supports this decision.
“In fact, the NRC received over 10,000 responses during its public comment period and the majority of them were against the site. I have been and will remain vocal in my opposition. I urge the NRC to reverse course.”
Landgraf said the NRC and the Biden administration will jeopardize Permian Basin oil and gas production if the site is established adjacent to the Waste Control Specialists site that since 1995 has stored low-level waste like tools, building materials and protective clothing.
“I was proud to work this summer on behalf of engaged West Texans to pass a law that will help Texas push back,” he said. “Thanks to the passage of House Bill 7, which went into effect earlier this month, the NRC will violate Texas law if the license results in the storage or disposal of spent nuclear fuel or any other high-level radioactive waste.
“I filed HB 7 because West Texans had made it abundantly clear that they opposed the storage of high-level radioactive waste in our energy-producing region,” Landgraf said. “I expect that the State of Texas will deploy our available resources to enforce our laws.
“HB 7 gives us a new leg to stand on in our fight against the Biden administration and out-of-state high-level radioactive waste.”
The material referred to by the NRC is spent fuel rods, which remain radioactive for tens of thousands of years, from nuclear power plants. The project is being pursued by Interim Storage Partners, a joint venture of Waste Control Specialists and Orano USA of Bethesda, Md., which is a subsidiary of the Orano Corp. in a suburb of Paris, France, called Chatillon, Hauts-de-Seine.
Abbott wrote a letter to the NRC last Nov. 3 that said the site would present “a greater radiological risk than Texas is prepared to allow” and the Andrews County Commissioners Court voted unanimously July 15 to oppose the plan.