LUBBOCK, Texas - Texas environmental regulators approved a plan Wednesday to dispose of low-level radioactive waste from around the country at a West Texas remote site near the New Mexico border.
Commissioners with the state's environmental agency voted to grant two licenses that will allow Dallas-based Waste Control Specialists to dispose of waste from Texas and Vermont and from sites run by the federal government. One of the three commissioners abstained.
The license will be issued and disposal of the waste can begin after the company completes condemnation of land and obtains mineral rights at the West Texas disposal site about 370 miles from Dallas.
William J. Lindquist, the Waste Control's chief executive officer, said in a news release that the company was grateful to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for the "responsibility to dispose of waste resulting from activities that affect all our lives every day in a manner that will protect human health and the environment for thousands of years to come."
The Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, which opposed the licenses, is considering filing an appeal in state district court. The group wanted a hearing before an administrative law judge to air its concerns.
"Before making such a historic decision to turn Texas into the nation's nuclear waste repository further study of the adequacy of this site was needed," Sierra Club spokesman Cyrus Reed said.
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One license allows Texas and Vermont to dispose of radioactive materials such as uranium, plutonium and thorium from commercial power plants, academic institutions and medical schools.
The other license deals with similar materials from sites run by the U.S. Department of Energy, such as Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, Hanford Site in Washington state and other federal facilities.
The waste includes radioactive soil and building debris, such as industrial trash, paper, plastics and metals.
In May, the commission also gave the company a license to dispose of Cold War-era radioactive waste at the site.