Sample Comments – Radioactive Waste Dump

Prevent Texas from Becoming the Nation’s Radioactive Waste Dump- Sample Comments

Here are some sample comments. Please email your comments on the Import Rule to the Compact Commission’s Interim Executive Director, Margaret Henderson at by April 13, 2010.

The Texas Low Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission wants to allow the entire country to dump nuclear waste at the Waste Control Specialists’ West Texas site. Other Compacts in the country have excluded out-of-Compact radioactive waste, and the Texas-Vermont Compact should do the same.

Compact Commissioners should not approve the import portion of the rule.
The Compact Commission is rushing ahead with this proposed rule, even though the TCEQ license has been appealed, the site has yet to be constructed, and the Compact Commission does not have adequate resources. How can the Commission responsibly open the state up to all the waste from around the country and possibly the world if they don’t even have the funding for staff to review proposed importation agreements; cannot afford to come to the public hearings on the rule; stated at their last meeting that they didn’t know if they would have enough funds to make it through this rulemaking process; cannot afford an attorney; and does not have bylaws yet? It is irresponsible and detrimental to the public interest. This process must be halted until it can be done properly.

What’s Wrong with the Import Rule? And How to Improve it

No Limitations on Waste
There are no limits in the rule for what can be imported. Radioactive waste should be limited to just the Compact Agreement states – Texas and Vermont. There is not enough capacity at the WCS site as licensed for the Texas and Vermont waste. Opening up to more waste predetermines that TCEQ will have to expand the license even though challenges to this license are still in the courts. (License is for 2,310,000 cubic feet of nuclear waste but the Compact Commission has said Vermont needs 1 million and Texas needs 5 million.) At a very minimum, the rule must include a limit to how much waste, in volume and curie levels, can be imported. The rule must also include an absolute ban on foreign radioactive waste.

Not Considered an Environmental Rule and No Environmental Impact Analysis
Approving this rule would be putting forth a “major environmental rule” without the required impact analysis. An independent environmental impact study must be conducted before this rule can go forward. This rule will be used by utilities wanting to build new nuclear power reactors to justify making more waste even though the WCS site has limited capacity. This rule could dramatically increase the amount of waste that comes to the site and increase the threats to the environment and public health.

No TCEQ Approval of the Waste Required
This import rule would allow WCS to obtain contracts to bring in more waste with no environmental analysis and without adequate licensed capacity. No radioactive waste streams outside of Texas and Vermont have been evaluated by TCEQ. The rule must require all studies and evaluations to be done before the waste is imported into the state. Likewise, the rule must require that before the Compact Commission can consider an import agreement, WCS needs a TCEQ amendment to its license for the waste it wishes to import. The TCEQ technical approval for the waste to be disposed of at the site must come before the Compact Commission policy approval to import.

No Consideration of Texas Liability
Texas will take title and liability to the waste once the Compact site closes and will be responsible for cleanup costs if the site leaks. The rule discusses the positive fiscal benefits of the rule but none of the liabilities. The rule should discuss the liability it creates for Texas taxpayers, who will ultimately face the financial and environmental burden of radioactive waste lasting thousands of years.

No Transportation Considerations
There are no provisions in the rule governing the transport of radioactive waste which will come in on trucks and trains through Texas communities. An independent and comprehensive transportation safety and impact study must be a condition of any consideration of all waste coming into Texas. If an accident occurs, state and local governments would be responsible for the emergency response and for taking actions to protect the public health and safety. The rule should include a requirement to notify emergency service providers 24-hours in advance of import and export shipments so that they can be prepared with proper equipment if they need to respond to a train or truck accident during transport of radioactive waste. The possibility and consequences of an accident during transport should also be considered in the rule as a liability for Texas. The rule should require a comparison of the manifest of the waste from its originating point to the waste that arrives at the WCS site.

WCS is Importing Radioactive Waste NOW
WCS is currently importing waste under their storage license. The compact commission governs the management and disposal of waste, and management includes storage. This rule must require WCS to seek Compact Commission approval to import non-Compact waste under their existing storage license.

No Public Participation Process
The 20-day comment period briefly mentioned in the rule is inadequate and prevents public participation. The rule must specifically outline the public input process – how and when the public will be informed of an import petition, how the public can participate, and how public comments will be considered by the Commission.