Wednesday, January 05, 2011

36 states will send their radioactive waste to Texas

Thanks, Rick Perry:

HOUSTON — A Texas commission approved rules on Tuesday that pave the way for 36 states to export low-level radioactive waste to a remote landfill along the Texas-New Mexico border.

The 5-2 vote by the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Commission came after last-minute legal maneuvering on Monday failed to delay the meeting, environmentalists warned the dump would pollute groundwater and more than 5,000 people commented on the plan.

You may recall the posts here about this.

...(T)he site's owner, Dallas-based Waste Control Specialists, convinced the commission the West Texas landfill was a secure solution to permanently dump radioactive waste. Until now, the site has only accepted waste from Texas, Vermont and the federal government.

"We are certainly very pleased and happy," CEO Bill Lindquist told The Associated Press after the vote in Andrews, Texas.

As Texas Vox noted two weeks ago, Waste Control Specialists is owned by Harold Simmons, a big Perry contributor. Imagine that.

Harold Simmons, whose company owns this dump, has spread his cash far and wide, giving Governor Perry over $1 million since 2000 (making him the governor’s 2nd largest individual donor) and funding campaigns for every member of the Texas Supreme Court among others. While Simmons gets to make billions off this waste, Texans will get the responsibility for managing it for 10,000 years and cleaning it up -- Mr. Simmons’ license expires in just 15 years.

But the other crony involved here is Perry appointee and nuke waste "czar" Michael Ford, chairman of the TLLRWDCC.

Ford brought up this bad idea last summer, but polls showed a majority of Texans didn’t like the proposal. Bill White made it an election issue, accusing Governor Perry of making the state a radioactive waste dump to benefit his donor. So Perry’s Waste Czar pulled the proposal, waiting until day after the election to announce that the process would move forward once more.

But announcing a meeting the day after the election with just 10-days notice for people to travel to Midland (where the capitol press would be unlikely to follow), and then posting the rule itself such that the comment period would meet the literal definition of “the holidays” was only the beginning for Mr. Ford.

A commissioner named Bob Gregory who, like Ford, was appointed by Governor Perry asked that the comment period on this rule be extended to 90 days since a 30 day comment period would transpire during the holidays when most people are too busy to pay much attention to matters of civic engagement. Mr. Ford and 4 other members of the TLLRWDCC voted against Mr. Gregory’s very reasonable solution for this very obvious problem.

The bottom line is that Mr. Ford and several of the commissioners are afraid of public scrutiny. Last spring they received over 2,000 comments from Texans opposed to the rule. That was before the issue made the front pages of newspapers all across the state, so they have good reason to be afraid.

HuffPo and Yahoo have moved the AP story through the wire, but no mention yet at Houston's newspaper of record. Will link here when it finally appears. Although they do have the report yesterday of the 15,000 gallons of beef tallow that spilled into the Houston Ship Channel, along with the usual tasteless sarcasm of the Chronically Conservative Comment Regiment. One classy sample:

"Throw in some produce and make soup for the homeless."


The Coast Guard says a nearly one-mile stretch of the Houston Ship Channel will be closed for at least four days as workers use pitchforks and fishnets to corral, pierce and remove 15,000 gallons of beef fat. ...

On Tuesday, about 250,000 gallons of beef fat leaked from a storage tank, and some reached the waterway through a storm drain. The fat solidified when it hit the colder water.

Initially, the Coast Guard thought the channel would reopen early Thursday. But Brahm says the cleanup is taking longer than expected. By late Wednesday only 25 percent of the mess had been removed.

Oh, and did we mention that Greg Abbott found a federal judge to stall EPA's takeover of the permit process for Texas' air-fouling refineries and chemical plants?

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