The approval by the Nuclear Regulator Commission (“NRC”) on Monday of Interim Storage Partners/Waste Control Specialists’ license to store high level nuclear waste on the surface in Andrews County, Texas, has placed West Texas and the Permian Basin oil fields at great risk of a catastrophic nuclear event. The passage of House Bill 7 (“HB7”) into law last week by the Texas Legislature was a good measure to protect Texas — especially the residents of the Permian Basin — from the risk of nuclear disaster.
However, the bill did not go far enough, and appears to still allow the storage of a dangerous class of high level nuclear waste (Reactor Related Waste Greater than Class C Waste) to be stored on the surface at the Andrews County site. This plan not only jeopardizes the safety of Texans, but is a major national security threat, by placing a major energy and economic engine of the state and the nation at risk.
House Bill 7 would not be necessary if the Biden-Obama administration had not blocked progress on the Yucca Mountain high level waste facility. Joe Biden’s Afghanistan debacle has elevated the risk with terrorists suspected to be coming across our southern border armed with some of the $83 billion in advanced weapons left behind for the Taliban terrorists.
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 that should not be allowed to happen.
The text of the bill can be viewed here.
House Bill 7 introduced by Representative Brooks Landgraf of House District 81 did not include any proposed amendments that would have allowed greater clarity, security, and safety. Why did Chairman Landgraf and Governor Abbott not want the following amendments to be allowed in HB7? All of the amendments just work to protect Texans from the threat of a potential nuclear disaster.
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 allowance of nuclear waste to be stored in shallow facilities, in the Andrews case on a cement slab on the surface. With the collapse of Afghanistan and fundamentalist Islam on the rise again thanks to the failures of the Biden Administration, the state of Texas should not be building a bullseye for bad actors.”
A number of amendments were created that would strengthen the bill by eliminating possible loopholes. However, though pushed vigorously by many representatives, not a single one of these amendments was adopted. Governor Abbott signed this bill, knowing full well that it allowed for back doors to exist where dangerous nuclear waste could be stored on the surface in Texas. Apparently lucrative storage of some high level nuclear waste by a few out-of-state corporate licensees takes priority over the safety of Texans.
Below is a list of the amendments that could have protected Texans:
- Clarifying 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.
- Barring 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.
- Requiring 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.
- Providing for a significant penalty for violations to include an Economic Benefits Penalty (a percentage of profits earned during the period of violation).
- Changing the effective date to immediately to preclude the possibility of any actor getting a grandfathered permit.
- Banning all state or local permits required for construction or operation, effective immediately.