Andrews County, Texas fight against high-level nuclear waste with new law

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Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 5:26 PM CDT
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ANDREWS, Texas (KOSA) - For months, federal momentum was building to store high-level nuclear waste in Andrews County.

“This process can continue. And that is strictly out of our hands. It goes to the federal government,” Andrews County Judge Charlie Falcon said in July when the county passed a resolution against the storage of high-level nuclear waste. That resolution didn’t carry a lot of weight, but a new state law just might.

“I think it’s very important to make sure their voices are prioritized, and their voices are heard in this process,” said Rep. Brooks Landgraf, who wrote the law.

That law has a two-pronged approach. First, it outright bans the storage of the waste in Texas. Second, it bans the issuance of construction permits for the building or operation of high-level nuclear waste facilities.

“This law is really designed more to address the importation of waste that comes in from other parts of the country as ordered by the Biden Administration,” Landgraf said.

The law doesn’t apply to nuclear reactors and storage facilities that are already in place.

Whether the law holds up remains to be seen. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is expected to approve Andrews County for storage next week, setting up a potential battle between Texas and the federal government.

“If the NRC wants to push this as a federal vs. state issue, I think that’s something we can expect, but I think the NRC and the Biden administration can expect a fightback,” Rep. Landgraf said.

Rep. Landgraf said he hopes it doesn’t come to that, citing similar instances where the federal government honored a state’s wishes to not be the site of nuclear facilities.

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