Ah, now here’s a solution for our South Texas uranium mining tailings and our piling South Texas Nuclear Project radioactive plant scum, an old-school, open-pit dump in the dry, windy Panhandle. Sounding like 1950 all over again.
Already the Repub funder extraordinaire Harold Simmons has wrangled some of the most deadly of the supposed “low-level” radioactive waste out of Illinois (this Fernald waste, which is actually extremely “high-level” K-65 waste reclassified) and managed to keep packing his Waste Control
Specialists site with barrels of radioactive toxics in Andrews County despite being perched atop the Ogallalla Aquifer and near “over 18 seismic epicenters.”
Just a few years ago, after anti-nukers ran the state of Texas out of Sierra Blanca, private industry stepped in. Utah’s Envirocare and WCS were duking it out with millions of persuasion money blowing into the Statehouse. Envirocare was pitching above-ground bunkers, “assured isolation,” they called it. Assured for how long? locals wondered, with recent tornadic activity in the backs of their minds. Well, Dallas-based WCS won out. Now they are ready to cash in and pack in all up into muddy hole.
Take a close look at Forrest Wilder’s story in the most recent Texas Observer and let me know if you feel comfortable.
Along with environmental groups, some TCEQ insiders are publicly and privately expressing grave concerns about Waste Control’s plans. They argue that the company’s voluminous application has failed to prove that the landfill will be safe for people and the environment.
Specifically, they worry that the landfill, as proposed, could contaminate groundwater with radionuclides; that the same High Plains winds that gave birth to wind farms might spread soil-like, radioactive byproduct around the region; that workers could be exposed to harmful levels of radiation; and that rail deliveries of waste could be unsafe for towns along the route.
The company proposes burying the byproduct waste in a 16-acre pit, about 100 feet deep, that would remain open for 30 years and then be sealed. Five years after it is closed, the state or federal government would assume responsibility for the site for the next few millennia.
“WCS stands to make millions on this and stick the liability with the taxpayers,” says a former state regulator familiar with the application.
To make the plain more obvious: We want to pay these folks to dump some of the most hazardous wastes imaginable at a geologically miserable site, bury it, and then turn it over to the feds to worry about the mess?
Now I’m sure it’s 1950. The place is Panna Maria, Texas. That pit they want to turn into a mountain of toxics, very similar to hills we have down here that our good ol’ Department of Energy will be safeguarding (on your dime) into the tens-of-thousands-of-years range. Meanwhile, the plume beneath the P.M. Heap is so hopelessly polluted they’ve decided not to even try to clean it up.
In about 100,000 years, it just may be drinkable again.