JULY 2011

Texas passes legislation allowing out-of-state radioactive waste

Waste Control Specialists (WCS), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Valhi, Inc. located in Texas, is pleased with the Texas Legislature for passing legislation that allows the company to receive out-of-state low-level radioactive wastes.

Noting the significant efforts and investments made by all three partners in developing a disposal facility, William J. Lindquist, chief executive officer of WCS, said the legislature put the final piece in place by recognizing waste from outside the state was necessary to make the facility affordable and cost-effective for Texas generators, paving the way for disposal operations to begin later this year at the WCS site in Andrews County.

“The Texas Legislature put the best interests of Texas consumers and ratepayers first by devising a way to keep disposal costs low for Texas generators while providing tens of millions of dollars annually for the state budget through a voluntary access surcharge paid by generators outside the Texas Compact states of Texas and Vermont,” Lindquist said.

This legislation was sponsored by Senator Kel Seliger of Amarillo and Representative Tryon Lewis of Odessa, both of whom represent Andrews. The legislation received overwhelming support in the legislature; near unanimous approval in the Senate and three-quarters approval in the House of Representatives.

This legislation protects Texas’ interests by setting annual volume limits on the amount of waste that can be received from outside the compact states and instructs the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to conduct an updated facility capacity study in 2012. The legislation mandates that 70 percent of disposal capacity at the state facility be reserved for the compact states.

With low-level radioactive waste temporarily stored at 1,500 locations across Texas, mostly in urban areas, the need for a sound, cost-effective solution was clear. Much of the waste comes from the operations of nuclear power plants that provide base load electrical supplies for Texas businesses and residents. Some of the waste comes from medical research and treatments of cancer, diabetes and other critical illnesses.

The WCS facility in western Andrews County is the only commercial facility in the United States licensed to dispose of Class A, B and C low-level radioactive waste. It is also licensed for the treatment and storage of low-level radioactive waste – and has safely and successfully served as a temporary storage facility for past United States Department of Energy projects.

Situated in an arid and isolated location, the WCS facility sits atop a formation of 500 feet of impermeable red-bed clay which makes it an ideal setting for the storage and disposal of low-level radioactive waste. The state of Texas has determined the WCS facility does not sit above or adjacent to any underground drinking water formations.