Sierra Club Disappointed by TCEQ icensing Radioactive Waste Dump Without Hearing

Posted on 05/21/2008. Filed under: El Paso, Radioactive waste, Sierra Club, TCEG, West Texas |

Sierra Club Disappointed by Commissioners’ Denial of Contested Case Hearing and Granting of WCS Radioactive Waste Disposal License in Andrews County

The Sierra Club expressed disappointment at today’s two-to-one vote by Commissioners of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality which denied a contested case hearing and granted Waste Control Specialists the right to permanently dispose of tons of radioactive “byproduct materials” waste in Andrews County on the border of New Mexico. The license is the first of two that WCS is seeking as they attempt to create the largest commercial radioactive disposal site.

Sierra Club requested a contested case on behalf of several members in Eunice, New Mexico located five miles from the WCS site alleging that the applicant – among other failings –

.Failed to adequately characterize the underground geology and hydrology of the site – a claim supported by staff geologists at TCEQ;

. Failed to model for severe weather events, including high winds;

. Did not consider the potential for radioactive traffic accidents;

. Did not look at surface water run-off; and,

. Did not even perform the required one-year of pre-operation monitoring.

“As the Office of Public Council and Commissioner Larry Soward agreed, Sierra Club and the Eunice, New Mexico residents established that because of the failings of the site, we deserve the opportunity to show before an Administrative Law Judge that the site is not adequate to dispose of these
cold-war era uranium wastes and other materials,” said Cyrus Reed, Conservation Director for the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. “As it stands right now the public may never know why former members of the TCEQ science team looking at the application considered it one of the worst in
the agency’s history and if the geology is as they believe, residents of Eunice, New Mexico will face the consequences.”

Reed said Sierra Club is considering making a motion for the TCEQ to reconsider the decision, and if needed, appealing to State District Court.

Pat Bobeck, a former TCEQ staff geologist who left the agency due to objections to the pending WCS licensing, attests that after years of application review and WCS efforts at improvements in the application, the applicant failed to adequately characterize the site.

“The application contained inconsistencies and contradictions and a lack of detailed geologic data,” Bobeck noted. “There is water there in that clay and in the siltstone and water is going to move that waste around. It’s going to cause problems and there’s no way around that.”

Rose Gardner traveled from her home in Eunice, New Mexico 5 miles from where the WCS waste would be stored to attend today’s TCEQ decision.

“This stinks that the TCEQ has denied my right to a hearing about something so close to where my family lives and has been living for the past half a century. We should be able to contest that!” said Gardner. “I don’t believe this is a safe site. I think that the radioactive waste would filter down through the cracks and salt domes in that clay. It’ll leach right down into our precious groundwater. I am concerned about what this could mean for the health and well being of my family.”

For more information, contact: Cyrus Reed, or 512-477-1729 or

Donna Hoffman, 512-477-1729


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