Unlikely Groups Oppose Radioactive Dump

A dump for radioactive waste in Texas has forged an unlikely partnership. Environmental groups and a Tea Party Organization are joining forces to oppose expansion of the planned dump. Rod Rice reports.

In 2003, the state approved a disposal site for radioactive waste in west Texas along the border with New Mexico. It was for nuclear waste from Vermont and Texas. Now there are bills before the legislature to allow radioactive waste to come to Texas from any state.

Former gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina is the Director of We Texans.  She’s opposed to the dump because the private company that will run it, Waste Control Specialists will get 90% of the revenue while the State of Texas accepts all the liability.

“So if there’s any sort of nuclear accident, disposal or contamination, it’s Texas taxpayers who will have to foot the bill to any for the clean-up.”

Medina calls it the worst form of crony capitalism. Groups like Public Citizen, which opposed the dump from the beginning, say if the legislature allows Waste Control Specialists to accept radioactive material from anywhere, truck loads of such waste will be passing through Houston and a an accident on I-10 could be very serious.

Public Citizen’s Trevor Lovell says the companies own estimates indicate the contamination zone could be as small as 5000 square feet to more than 500 square miles.

“If it was one of the smaller zones you’re looking at a concentrated exposure.  If it’s spread out over a larger area, a 500 square mile area, that’s affecting a very large amount of the population, what you’re going to have is, you’re going to have people who are uncertain about whether they’ve been exposed to radioactive material.”

He says hospitals could be overwhelmed with frightened people and the subsequent costs of dealing with that situation and the cleanup will be enormous.

Lovell says at the very least the legislature must do more studies to determine what the expanded role of the dump means to the state, but ideally, he says House Bill 2184 should be stopped and the dump kept to its original limitations.