Energy & Environment

Paxton Sues Federal Government For Not Acting On Nuclear Waste Site

The lack of an answer to the nuclear waste problem frustrated Rick Perry – now Energy Secretary – when he was governor.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing the federal government for failing to move forward with plans for a national nuclear waste site. Among the lawsuit’s targets are the Energy Department and its new secretary – former Texas Governor Rick Perry.

An example of spent nuclear fuel stored in dry casks at a nuclear power plant.

Used nuclear fuel has been piling up at power plants across the country for decades now, and the government still doesn’t know where to put it all.

The Obama Administration pulled the plug on a planned waste dump in Nevada a few years ago, but regulators never formally decided on it. The lawsuit claims the federal government is violating the Nuclear Waste Policy Act by not approving that site, and the state wants a vote on it by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The lack of an answer to the nuclear waste problem frustrated Perry as governor.

In 2011, he said Texans had been “betrayed” by the feds, and he said at his confirmation hearing in January he’ll work on a path forward.

“Hopefully, this is the beginning of seeing real movement, real management of an issue that I think no longer can sit,” Perry said.

“It’s time we quit continuing to pile nuclear waste in temporary casks above ground,” says Austin Nimocks, Associate Deputy Attorney General for Paxton and lead counsel for the lawsuit.

“We need to start moving this waste to a permanent repository and that’s what this lawsuit is about.”

As the state calls for an end to temporary waste storage, a company called Waste Control Specialists (WCS) is asking for permission to do just that in West Texas. The company says it’s still reviewing the lawsuit, and it’s not sure how it would affect their plans.

“WCS has always been supportive of a permanent repository and we believe a consolidated interim storage facility is needed as part of an integrated waste management system in the U.S.,” company spokesperson Chuck McDonald said in a statement.

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Travis Bubenik

Travis Bubenik

Energy & Environment Reporter

Travis Bubenik reports on the tangled intersections of energy and the environment in Houston and across Texas. A Houston native and proud Longhorn, he returned to the Bayou City after serving as the Morning Edition Host & Reporter for Marfa Public Radio in Far West Texas. Bubenik was previously the...

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