News Release
For Immediate Release: Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Disaster in the Making:
Nuke Waste Bill Passes Texas House

Speaker-led majority rejects amendments intended to safeguard Texas from terrorist acts involving radioactive waste; waste dump will have lower security than nuclear power plants, where 96% of Texas’ radioactive waste is generated

AUSTIN—The Texas House passed dangerous legislation yesterday that will make West Texas the dumping ground for the nation’s nuclear waste—and possibly a focal point for terrorists seeking radioactive material for use in a dirty bomb.

"This bill paints a target on West Texas," said Erin Rogers of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. "This bill poses a number of threats to Texas, but one of the greatest threats could come from terrorists who will now know that West Texas is set to become a low-security dumping ground for a mountain of radioactive waste."

The bill, HB 1567, was approved on a final vote of 107-34 late Tuesday afternoon (voting list attached). House Speaker Tom Craddick led lawmakers in turning down the majority of amendments intended to make the bill less hazardous to Texans, including:

1) an amendment offered by Rep. Eddie Rodriguez that would have required the nuclear waste dump to maintain the same level of security as the federal government requires for nuclear power plants;

2) an amendment offered by Rep. Jesse Jones that would have given counties the power to ban the transport of nuclear waste on roads that are vital to the daily life of local communities, and another amendment by Jones that would have kept trucks carrying nuclear waste a safe distance from schools and playgrounds;

3) an amendment offered by Rep. Lon Burnam that would have limited the dump to the least deadly forms of low level radioactive waste (which is also least suitable for use in a dirty bomb), and another amendment by Burnam that would have required the State of Texas to hold the license to the dump—thereby ensuring public accountability;

4) an amendment from Rep. Dora Olivo that would have banned radioactive waste from the numerous federal nuclear weapons production sites around the country, and another amendment from Olivo that would have capped the amount of federal waste that could be accepted at 10 million cubic feet—thereby limiting the amount of dangerous radioactive waste trucked through Texas communities;

5) an amendment offered by Rep. Robert Talton that would have required substantial financial guarantees of the dump operator—thereby ensuring that Texas taxpayers don’t get stuck with the clean-up bill for the dump when it leaks and the operator may suddenly find itself in bankruptcy.

The legislation would open Texas up to hundreds of truck shipments every year of low-level radioactive waste from nuclear weapons production sites around the country.

The legislation specifies no security requirements for the dump. The legislation specifies no security requirements for trucks hauling radioactive waste through Texas communities.

In a time of uncertainty regarding terrorism and "dirty" nuclear bombs, it is even more important than ever for the state to maintain full control over any nuclear waste management facility that is created in Texas, and for radioactive waste not to be put on trucks and sent through Texas cities.

An incident in 2001 highlights the vulnerability of radioactive waste that is hauled on trucks. A disgruntled driver hauling a shipment of low-level radioactive material abandoned his truck in a rural area in North Central Texas in July 2001. The truck—and its deadly cargo—were not recovered for over a month.

 

 

Vote Count

Final Passage of HB 1567, April 22

AYES – 107

Allen(r); Bailey; Baxter(r); Berman(r); Bohac(r); Bonnen(r); Branch(r); Brown, Betty(r); Brown, Fred(r); Callegari(r); Campbell(r); Capelo; Casteel(r); Chisum(r); Christian(r); Cook, Byron(r); Cook, Robby; Corte(r); Crabb(r); Crownover(r); Davis, John(r); Dawson(r); Delisi(r); Denny(r); Deshotel; Driver(r); Dunnam; Eiland; Eissler(r); Elkins(r); Ellis, Dan; Farabee; Flores; Flynn(r); Garza; Gattis(r); Geren(r); Giddings; Goodman(r); Griggs(r); Grusendorf(r); Guillen; Gutierrez; Haggerty(r); Hamilton(r); Hamric(r); Hardcastle(r); Harper-Brown(r); Hartnett(r); Heflin(r); Hegar(r); Hilderbran(r); Hill(r); Homer; Hope(r); Howard(r); Hughes(r); Hunter(r); Hupp(r); Jones, Delwin(r); Jones, Elizabeth Ames(r); Keel(r); Keffer, Bill(r); Keffer, Jim(r); King(r); Kolkhorst(r); Krusee(r); Kuempel(r); Laney; Laubenberg(r); Lewis; Luna; Madden(r); Marchant(r); McCall(r); McReynolds; Mercer(r); Merritt(r); Miller(r); Morrison(r); Mowery(r); Nixon(r); Paxton(r); Phillips(r); Pickett; Pitts(r); Quintanilla; Reyna(r); Ritter; Seaman(r); Smith, Todd(r); Smith, Wayne(r); Smithee(r); Solis; Solomons(r); Stick(r); Swinford(r); Taylor(r); Uresti; Van Arsdale(r); West, Buddy(r); Wise; Wohlgemuth(r); Wolens; Wong(r); Woolley(r); Zedler(r)

NAYS – 34

Alonzo; Burnam; Canales; Castro; Chavez; Coleman; Dukes; Dutton; Edwards; Farrar; Gallego; Hochberg; Hodge; Hopson; Jones, Jesse; Mabry; Martinez Fischer; McClendon; Moreno, Joe; Moreno, Paul; Naishtat; Oliveira; Olivo; Pena; Puente; Raymond; Riddle(r); Rodriguez; Rose; Talton(r); Thompson; Truitt(r); Turner; Villarreal

PRESENT-NOT-VOTING - 1

Craddick(r)

ABSENT - 8

Davis, Yvonne; Goolsby(r); Isett(r); Menendez; Noriega; Rangel; Telford; Wilson

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NR 03-021 [NR]