WCS Disposal Site Stirs Controversy Among Environmentalists

April 30, 2009

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9
Midland, Texas

ANDREWS - Environmental activists are printing up postcards, running ads, and holding meetings in an effort to make their voices heard. Many are putting their foot down saying no to a proposed bond that would benefit Waste Control Specialists in Andrews.

Two clean energy groups traveled to Midland on Thursday in an effort to get West Texans on board. One organization is out of Washington, the other is from Austin, both strongly oppose the radioactive waste facility.

"This low level radioactive disposal license was a five year long process," Chuck McDonald, with Waste Control Specialists said. "This is the most scrutinized site in the history of the United States."

Waste Control Specialists say the radioactive dump site near Andrews is perfectly safe, but some environmental groups are crying foul.

"The risk is huge," Karen Hadden, with the S.E.E.D. Coalition, said. "Exposure to this radiation can lead to cancer, birth defects, so it's unsafe."

"It certainly could destroy the water supply, it could effect the air quality, it could effect property values even more," Diane D'Arrigo with the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, said.

WCS tells NewsWest 9, they've been storing this type of waste for many years at the Andrews County site with no incidents and they say the new plant will be just as safe.

"This is an extremely safe facility and it's an extremely appropriate facility that has been scrutinized as it should have been intensely by the State of Texas," McDonald said.

"The level of awareness is increasing and some people are feeling like this is not what they bargained for," Hadden said.

The company is going to county voters to finance a new expansion - a bond election on May 9th would authorize the county to issue up to $75 million to Waste Control Specialists.

"The county, before they issue any bonds, is going to demand a full set of financial guarantees to assure them that the taxpayers are protected," McDonald said.

"They came into a situation where a low level radioactive waste dump in their community was supposed to bring wealth and now they're asked to come up with $75 million in funding," Hadden stated.

If the new disposal site is built, Andrews will get $15 million a year and 75 new jobs.

"The economic impact to the county is $175 million. It's a huge item for Andrews County," McDonald said.

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