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Send the letter below to the Texas Low Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission Members to this e-mail address:
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Re: Title 31 Natural Resources and Conservation, Part 21. Texas Low Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission, Chapter 675. Preliminary Rules, Subchapter B. Exportation and Importation of Waste

Dear Chairman Ford and Texas Low Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission Members:

Please halt the vote on the import/export rule for radioactive waste. It is inappropriately being rushed through during the winter holiday season and deserves careful public scrutiny and deliberation.

The original intent of the Compact Agreement was to limit radioactive waste going to the Texas dumpsite to that coming from Compact States, now just Texas and Vermont. The intent was to limit radioactive waste, not encourage import from around the country, which is what the proposed rule does.

The Texas and Vermont legislatures need to have a chance to review the proposed rule and examine the financial and environmental risks, as well as our emergency preparedness before the Compact Commission votes on the import rule. Some Texas counties don’t have full-time professional fire departments and it is questionable whether volunteer personnel would have adequate training or equipment as first responders to a highway or rail transportation accident involving radioactive materials.

I request that a public hearing be held by the Compact Commission to take input in my community before a vote is scheduled on the import rule. Radioactive waste transport routes have not been identified by the Compact Commission or any state agency. It can only be assumed that radioactive waste shipments could occur on any major Texas highway, including but not limited to I-10, I-20, I-30 and I-27.

The Compact Commission should have the State Auditor conduct an analysis of the amounts of radioactive waste and the curies of radioactivity that could end up in Texas if the rule is approved and TCEQ allows expansion of the Andrews County radioactive waste dump. An independent study has found that there could potentially be 19 times more radioactive waste than originally anticipated. The Compact Commission has failed to do its own analysis.

The State Auditor should conduct a Takings Impact Assessment and analysis of risks and benefits to the State of Texas, as well as employment analysis. Currently the Compact Commission is only being provided a determination by Chairman Michael Ford. There is no publicly available research that backs up the conclusions that he has reached and there has been no public discussion of the methodology used. If this the type of science to be employed in the oversight of shipments of radioactive waste? If so, there is great cause for alarm.

Expansion of the radioactive waste Compact dumpsite should be viewed as a major environmental rule since it exceeds an express requirement of state law or a Compact and fails to consider or provide analysis of benefits and costs of the proposed rule to state agencies, local governments, the public, the regulated community and the environment. A vote on the import rule vote should not occur until all related major rule analyses and requirements are met.

There should be an analysis of risks of radioactive contamination of water, along with the cost of remediation, before any import rates are set. Fees should be set high enough to cover clean up costs, since remediation costs at other radioactive waste dumps have ranged from millions to billions of dollars. An economist should be hired to examine this issue carefully and advise the Commission.

The rules are inadequate in numerous ways. Clear standards should be set for when and how an import petition can be denied. Reporting requirements for radioactive shipments remain unclear and are defined differently throughout the proposed rule. For every radionuclide involved, there should be a listing of volume and curies, the original source of the material and the form it takes, along with a history of processing and shipments. Distinct radionuclides should not be lumped together in categories according to their class. Furthermore, where the rule says that information should be made public, there should be clarification that the information should be made readily accessible on a publicly available web site.

The proposed import rule allows for a dangerous conflict of interest since TCEQ would accept payments for imports of radioactive waste while also being in charge as regulator. Health and safety could take a backseat, leaving Texans at risk.

The Waste Control Specialists site is currently licensed for 2.3 million cubic feet of water and 3.89 million curies. Texas’ existing four reactors and Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor would require 6 million cubic feet of capacity. How can there be any consideration of expanding to take non-Compact waste when Texas and Vermont alone will have enough waste to fill up the licensed facility three times over?

Waste Control Specialists could walk away from the site after only 15 years. All six other private waste dumps have leaked. Will Texas taxpayers be left with an environmental disaster and a clean up bill after Waste Control Specialists makes their money and leaves? How much does the financial and environmental risk for Texas increase if the site is opened up to take waste from around the country?

The import rule doesn’t require Out-of-Compact generators to pay their fair share. Texas and Vermont will both have to put in $25 million. The rule should limit radioactive waste to that of Texas and Vermont, the two Compact States. If other states want to join the Compact, they should at minimum have to go through the Congressional process and pay in. Why should they be given a free ride while Texas taxpayers bear all the risks?

I urge you to halt the vote on the import rule, conduct hearings in communities that would be impacted by shipments of radioactive waste, allow Legislative oversight, address conflict of interest issues, and meet requirements of a major environmental rule since the expansion allowed by the rule is of great significance. If a import rule vote does move forward, I urge you to vote no.