Texas is once again caught in the crosshairs of a national security risk. This time in the form of legislation that would allow the above-ground storage of nuclear waste in the Permian Basin, which puts in jeopardy all of Texas as well as the rest of the country. Therefore, we must do everything in our power to ensure that the WCS/ISP and Holtec permits are not granted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
House Bill 7 introduced by Representative Brooks Landgraf of House District 81 was heard and reported out of the Environmental Regulation Committee this past Monday, August 23. The bill bans transportation, storage, or disposal of high-level radioactive waste (HLW), spent nuclear fuel (SNF), and other nuclear reactor-related waste (RR-GTCC) in Texas.
Chairman Landgraf made it clear that the bill needed to be approved by the House and the Senate ASAP so the Governor could sign the bill into law by September 5, the end of this special session.
The text of the bill can be viewed here.
Lt. Col. West has noted that “the concern about having an expanded nuclear waste facility in the Permian Basin is that the long-term energy security of America could be put at risk. Our oil and natural gas resources in Texas are the backbone of America’s energy independence. Risking it to possible nuclear contamination over the long-term is not just bad for our energy sector, but also jeopardizes our national security. Of particular concern is the plan to store nuclear waste on the surface, which would make the Permian Basin a strategic target to terrorists and other bad actors.”
Storing America’s high-level nuclear waste — spent fuel rods — from nuclear power plants across the country at the surface in the center of our strategic Permian Basin oil fields represents a significant and unnecessary national security risk.
A number of issues have been identified that would strengthen the bill by eliminating possible loopholes. Below is the list of suggested items for consideration by Chairman Landgraf as House floor amendments. There is no time for a conference with the Senate to consider these items. We need to get it right in House Bill 7.
Today the Texas House will vote on HB 7. West strongly encourages all house members to support the following amendments to this bill to fortify it, best ensuring that high-level nuclear waste is not brought in from out of state and stored in the Texas Permian Basin.
- Clarify that prohibited radioactive waste includes Reactor Related Greater than Class C (RR-GTCC) waste in addition to HLW and SNF. Ensure that each type of waste is defined and is distinct in order to coincide with Federal definitions.
- Bar the act of transporting and storage instead of addressing an “actor” or “person” so as to prohibit the full range of possible actors: companies, government officials/agencies (especially the USG if they take title), license holders, contractors, etc.
- Require that the State of Texas and the host County provide explicit consent for each type of waste and receive damages for each type of waste stored or disposed of within their jurisdiction.
- Provide for a significant penalty for violations to include an Economic Benefits Penalty (a percentage of profits earned during the period of violation).
- Change the effective date to immediately to preclude the possibility of any actor getting a grandfathered permit.
- Ban all state or local permits required for construction or operation, effective immediately.