Sierra Blanca (USA)

Texas LLW repository planned

Facilities in Sierra Blanca

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Sierra Blanca - TexasLLW repository

A Minnesota senator is urging critics of the Texas-Maine-Vermont low-level radwaste (LLW) compact to mobilize opposition during the Senate´s August recess.
Wellstone portrayed the compact as a tool for environmental discrimination. The states plan to dispose of LLW in the sparslys populated west Texas desert near a mainly Hispanic town, Sierra Blanca. Senator Wellstone said citizens should call senators and urge the compact bill be rejected. "And when the Senate gets back, we will have a debate and we will raise environmental justice as an issue of national importance," he said.


The judges said they were concerned about a fault beneath the proposed site and the facility´s potential socioeconomic impacts.
The Sierra Blanca Legal Defense Fund, said the judges´ recommendation - which will go to state regulators - only makes it appear Texas has a fair review system for such facilities, and casts doubt on whether the site will be located in the West Texas town of Sierra Blanca.
Sierra Blance is a small, mostly Hispanic town in Hudspeth County, and opponents say they´re victims of environmental racism because they don´t have the political clout to stop such unwanted projects.
Judges also wanted to know more about the facility operation´s potential socioeconomic impacts, such as its effect on tourism, or on perceptions of fairness in the siting process or perceived changes in quality of life in the area. The authority plans to address those concerns by preparing a more extensive socioeconomic impact study than that originally submitted.
The judges did recommend that the draft license be modified to clarify that the facility could accept waste containing a total of no more than 1-million curies over its 20-year license term. The authority had asked that the limitation be deleted and replaced with a dosage limit verified by annual updates to the performance assessment.


Texas is a step closer to having a low-level radioactive waste (LLW) disposal facility following state regulators´ release last week of an environmental and safety analysis and a draft license for the proposed site in Hudspeth County, east of El Paso.
If the three-member commission approves the site application, construction, which will take about six months, could begin in fall 1998. "This is assuming everything goes real smooth," said Lee Mathews, legal counsel for the authority. The authority, which will operate the site, expects the facility to take in about 50.000 cubic feet of waste a year. As host locality, Hudspeth County will receive a financial package including 10% of gross revenues after the facility begins operating. The county will also get 10% of the $50-million Maine and Vermont plan to pay to join a compact with Texas and use the site for their own LLW.
Opponents criticized the site because it is located in an earthquake zone and borders Mexico, which they said creates international implications for safety concerns.