May 24, 2020

Texas anti-dump findings challenged

EL PASO, Texas — Radioactive waste disposal officials prepared a lengthy document Wednesday challenging the findings of two state hearings examiners who opposed licensing a proposed west Texas dump.

The document, which was to have been filed at day’s end with the state environmental agency, specifically targets findings that disposal officials failed to adequately study a fault beneath the proposed site and to adequately address the dump’s potential negative socioeconomic impacts.

“The information is there [in testimony before the examiners] that we have adequately studied the fault and that the socioeconomic study was entirely adequate,” said Lee Mathews, general counsel for the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Authority.

The examiners, who heard months of testimony on the site, concluded in July that the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission should not license the dump proposed in Sierra Blanca, 90 miles southeast of El Paso.

The facility, which is opposed by many West Texas residents and environmental groups, would hold tons of radioactive waste generated by state utilities, hospitals and universities.

The U.S. Senate is also expected to vote next month on a compact that would allow Maine and Vermont to ship their low-level waste to Texas. The House has already approved the agreement.

Mathews said the disposal authority will have a chance to argue its position in the coming months before the conservation commission.

Dump opponents will also have an opportunity to respond.

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