WCS Meeting Brings Out Local Protest

June 12, 2010

Shelley Childers
CBS 7 News

Andrews, TX – Two sides clash at a Waste Control Specialist meeting held in Andrews today, drawing crowds of supporters and protesters for the future dumpsite of low-level radioactive materials, just 30 miles west of the city.

Today the Compact Commissioners were meeting to discuss the wording of the import rule, as it stands now 36 states and possibly other countries will be allowed to dispose of their low-level radioactive materials at the Waste Control Specialists site, but protesters argue health and safety is an issue.

"We’re not technically against the people personally, but we’re against the company and what they’re trying to do, and what they want to bring," said protester and vice president of the group Promote Andrews, Elizabeth Wheeler.

In a project that is more than 15 years in the making, WCS and the City of Andrews is hoping to soon be importing low-level radio active waste from around the country, but not every resident supports the idea.

"That’s very scary that they’re wanting to bring this hazardous material into my county, via trucks and trains and bury it here, when there’s potentially aquifers and other hazards at risk," said Timothy Gannaway, the secretary of Promote Andrews.

"Water is money in West Texas, and if there were water on that site, somebody would be irrigating with it or using it for drinking water and it’s just not potable water," said Russell Shannon, a resident who supports the radio-active waste site.

Officials say they have been studying the geography of the land for over a decade, in preparation for this, and Andrews Mayor Robert Zap points out, much of our medical research produces nuclear waste.

"For instance, Alzheimer’s disease, one of our most accurate diagnostic tools is nuclear, without it where are we going to go to?"

That waste has to be disposed of somewhere, but wheeler says she fears human error. "History does repeat itself, there has been spills and accidents and I’m not saying it’s their fault, it’s just how it is."

"We’ve got to look at it from a big picture perspective, we need to find a solution to disposing of this in a proper way and we believe Andrews has the answer for that," said Andrews City Manager Glen Hackler.

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