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Response to NCTraveler (Original post)

Fri Feb 19, 2016, 04:18 PM

36. The title of your OP is disingenuous. That bill concerned a compact between Vermont, Maine and TX.

Last edited Fri Feb 19, 2016, 04:50 PM - Edit history (1)

Texas politics actually controlled the placement of the facility: that would be local Texas politics, led by W at that time.

Starting with Sen. Wellstone's remarks, the following occurred:

(Congressional Record Volume 144, Number 77 (Monday, June 15, 1998))
(Pages S6349-S6356)
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office


Mr. WELLSTONE. Mr. President, I would like to speak out this evening
about an enormously important issue that has seldom, if ever, been
addressed on the floor of the United States Senate.


The moral responsibility of the Senate is unavoidable and undeniable.
If we approve H.R. 629 without conditions, the Compact dump will be
built within a few miles of Sierra Blanca.
There's really very little
doubt about that. And if that happens, this poor Hispanic community
could become the premier national repository for so-called ``low-
level'' radioactive waste.

If we reject this Compact, on the other hand, the Sierra Blanca dump
will not be built at all. The Texas Governor has said so publicly--more
than once. It's as simple as that. The fate of Sierra Blanca rests in
our hands.

Compact supporters would prefer that we consider the Compact without
any reference to the actual location of the dump. But that simply
cannot be done. It's true that H.R. 629 says nothing about Sierra
Blanca. But we know very well where this waste will be dumped. In that
respect, the Texas Compact is different from other compacts the Senate
has considered.

The Texas legislature in 1991 already identified the area where the
dump will be located. The Texas Waste Authority designated the site
near Sierra Blanca in 1992.
A draft license was issued in 1996. License
proceedings are now in their final stages and should be completed by
summer. Nobody doubts that the Texas authorities will soon issue that

There's only one reason why this dump might not get built--and that's
if Congress rejects the Texas Compact. In an April 1998 interview,
Texas Gov. George Bush said, ``If that does not happen,'' meaning
congressional passage of the Compact, ``then all bets are off.'' In the
El Paso Times of May 28, Gov. Bush said, ``If there's not a Compact in
place, we will not move forward.''

For these reasons, we cannot fairly consider H.R. 629 without also
considering the dump site that Texas has selected. Sierra Blanca is a
small town in one of poorest parts of Texas, an area with one of the
highest percentages of Latino residents. The average income of people
who live there is less than $8,000. Thirty-nine percent live below the
poverty line. Over 66 percent are Latino, and many of them speak only

It is a town that has already been saddled with one of the largest
sewage sludge projects in the world. Every week Sierra Blanca receives
250 tons of partially treated sewage sludge from across the country.
Depending on what action Congress decides to take, this small town with
minimal political clout may also become the national repository for
low-level radioactive waste. And I understand plans for building even
more dump sites are also in the works.

Supporters of the Compact would have us believe that the designation
of Sierra Blanca had nothing to do with the income or ethnic
characteristics of its residents. That it had nothing to do with the
high percentage of Latinos in Sierra Blanca and the surrounding
Hudspeth County--at least 2.6 times higher than the State average. That
the percentage of people living in poverty--at least 2.1 times higher
than the State average--was completely irrelevant.

They would have us believe that Sierra Blanca was simply the
unfortunate finalist in a rigorous and deliberate screening process
that fairly considered potential sites from all over the State. That
the outcome was based on science and objective criteria. I don't
believe any of this is true.

I am not saying science played no role whatsoever in the process. It
did. Indeed, based on the initial criteria coupled with the scientific
findings, Sierra Blanca was disqualified as a potential dump site. It
wasn't until politics entered the picture that Sierra Blanca was even


Despite the predictions that are recorded above in the Congressional Record, Texas did reject the permit for Sierra Blanca.

Clean Living
Meet three West Texas activists who are keeping their land out of the dumps.
July 1999
By Joe Nick Patoski

THE SIGN POSTED ON A FENCE OUTSIDE THE GUERRA and Company General Merchandise store in Sierra Blanca serves notice. “Attention: Any Company Intending to Dump Hazardous or Toxic Waste on Our Home Hudspeth County: We Will Not Allow You to Use Us as a Dumpsite. Our Health, Children, Water, and Land Are Most Precious to Us.” The message leaves the impression that a ruling by the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission last October, rejecting a permit to open a nuclear-waste dump in Sierra Blanca, never really happened. Indeed, even in the aftermath of tilting against radioactive windmills and turning back what many said was a “done deal,” a visit with three activists involved in the decade-long battle shows that the fight to protect West Texas’ natural resources is far from over.

Take Bill Addington, the Sierra Blanca native who has been in the trenches from the beginning. He’s back behind the meat counter at Guerra’s, which has been at its current location since 1928, but the counter is empty and half the shelves are bare. From here, Addington runs the Sierra Blanca Legal Defense Fund, which is now fighting against a sludge ranch north of town, operated by Merco Joint Venture, as well as a proposed nuclear-waste facility 230 miles away in Andrews, which the Legislature failed to authorize this session but may take up again in 2001.



However, the above-noted location in Andrews County seems much more recently to have been approved:

Agency Of Destruction
Texas' environmental commission serves its customers well. Too bad they're not the public.
by Forrest Wilder

Published Wed, May 26, 2010 at 4:05 pm CST


There’s no more eye-opening illustration of the agency’s MO than West Texas’ new radioactive waste dump.
In 2007, a team of geologists and engineers at TCEQ unanimously recommended that a license for the vast dump, near Andrews, be denied. Water contamination was a prime concern. Then-Executive Director Glenn Shankle ordered the TCEQ team to issue the license anyway.

There was big money at stake. The company behind the dump, Waste Control Specialists Inc., is owned by Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons, who’s contributed $620,000 to Perry’s campaigns since 2001, according to Texans for Public Justice. Simmons stands to make billions from storing “low-level” radioactive waste in West Texas.

Records show that Shankle met regularly with a team of lobbyists, lawyers and company principals at the same time his own experts warned him of the dump’s dangers. Seeing that the fix was in, three TCEQ employees quit in protest. Commissioners hardly batted an eye. In January 2009, after a brief, technical discussion, they voted 2-0 (with Soward abstaining) to issue the license. They also denied the Sierra Club and 12 individuals in Eunice, New Mexico, the town closest to the dump, a chance to contest the license before administrative judges.

Shankle stepped down as TCEQ’s executive director in June 2008. Six months later, he went to work for Waste Control Specialists as a lobbyist, collecting between $100,000 and $150,000 for his services thus far. Commissioners and top management frequently leave the agency to work for the industries they previously regulated, a revolving door that critics say has led to TCEQ’s leaning in industry’s direction.



Here is a link to the promotional page that WCS previously maintained:

The Texas Solution


In a unique partnership with Waste Control Specialists (WCS) and the state of Texas, the people of Andrews County and the Permian Basin are providing The Texas Solution to a national environmental challenge – the safe, permanent disposal of low-level radioactive waste (LLRW).

LLRW is now temporarily stored at thousands of sites throughout Texas and our nation, much of it in heavily populated urban areas. This waste results from activities that are essential to our society and which improve our quality of life, including power generators, hospitals, universities, research institutions and industrial plants.

On Sept. 8, 2009, WCS was granted its final license to dispose of LLRW by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Construction of the disposal facility will begin in 2010.

The Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission has oversight of the volume of waste disposed of at the WCS site in Andrews County, Texas. The TCEQ, the state’s lead environmental agency, will ensure the waste and disposal sites meet all appropriate environmental safeguards.


Here is a link to the TCEQ's page regarding WCS's Andrews County facility and also a link to WCS's seemingly most recent license for the Andrews County facility:

Here is the WCS Andrews County facility:

Here is a link to the WCS facility page and a link to WCS's report to the commission on which Sen. Sanders wife is an alternate commissioner:

Lastly, for the sake of completeness, there are two sites that seem to have summaries of the Sierra Blanca situation - one at the University of Michigan and one at Swarthmore:

Environmental Justice Case Study: The Struggle for Sierra Blanca, Texas Against A Low-Level Nuclear Waste Site



Texans defend Sierra Blanca community against nuclear waste disposal, 1996-1998



So, while issues related to the disposal of radioactive materials and waste are very important and need to be discussed fully. Senator Sanders, the US Congress and President Clinton hardly targeted a Latino community. That responsibility falls squarely on Texas.

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LineReply The title of your OP is disingenuous. That bill concerned a compact between Vermont, Maine and TX.
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