For Immediate Release (Tuesday, May 8, 2012):
For More Information: Cyrus Reed 512-740-4086
Statement of Cyrus Reed, Conservation Director, Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, on Today’s State District Court Ruling Remanding the License for the WCS
Radioactive Waste Facility in West Texas to TCEQ for a Contested Case Hearing
“In a stunning rebuke of Texas Commission on Environmental
Quality, (TCEQ)’s decision to deny citizens
the right to show how dangerous radioactive disposal would
be in West Texas, State District Court Judge Lora Livingston
today ordered TCEQ to reverse their decision denying the
Sierra Club the right to a contested case hearing over the
license granted to Waste Control Specialists (WCS) to operate
a radioactive waste dump in Andrews County, just east of
the New Mexico border.
In her order, Judge Livingston remanded the case to the
TCEQ for a contested case hearing on whether this radioactive
waste can be safely disposed of in West Texas.
“This ruling confirms what we have been saying all along. The Sierra Club and its members in West Texas and Eastern New Mexico deserve the opportunity to show that radioactive waste dumped at the WCS site could impact people in the area through airborne radioactive particles and potential groundwater contamination.
TCEQ should immediately stop operations at the WCS site and follow the judge’s order and grant the Sierra Club’s request for an expeditious but fair contested case hearing on the license for the dump site.”
Background: The Sierra Club won a victory today in its long fight against
a radioactive waste dump in West Texas when Travis County
State District Court Judge Livingston reversed a decision
made by the TCEQ three years ago that denied Sierra Club
its right to a contested case hearing on the license given
to Waste Control Specialists (WCS) for the dump.
subsequently filed a lawsuit in District Court to win that
hearing, but the court date had been delayed for years.
was the first opportunity for opponents to argue before an
impartial judge about the TCEQ's conscious decision to ignore
key information about potential problems with the site.
hearing before the Judge was held this afternoon at in the
Travis County Courthouse in Austin.
The Judge agreed that
TCEQ should have granted the Sierra Club the right to oppose
the license for the waste dump in a contested case hearing
before state administrative law judges.
remanded the license to TCEQ for the agency to grant the
contested case hearing.
Low level radioactive waste is so dangerous that it has to be disposed of in specially designed remote and isolated sites to prevent contamination of water and air. When Waste Control Specialists applied for a license, the staff at TCEQ reviewed the application and recommended its rejection because of their concerns about the possibility of water intrusion and contamination. The TCEQ's executive director overruled the recommendation of the staff and recommended issuing the license.
In light of the staff’s concerns, the Sierra Club requested
a hearing on the application. That request was denied and
the license was issued by two of the three TCEQ commissioners
appointed by Governor Perry. Six
months later TCEQ’s executive director went to work for WCS.
Just last week, the TCEQ granted WCS the right to receive radioactive waste at the site and begin operations despite the Sierra Club's appeal to State District Court.