Odessa American

WCS can take more waste

TCEQ sets public meeting for March 31

March 2, 2005

ANDREWS COUNTY Waste Control Specialists can now take in more low-level radioactive waste after getting a license amendment from the State Department of Health Services.

The company, which has facilities in western Andrews County, can now take in 1.5 million cubic feet of waste compared to the 250,000 cubic feet it could store before the amendment was granted.

The license amendment, approved Feb. 23, means Waste Control can take low-level waste from almost anywhere, company General Manager Tom W. Jones III said.

Jones said it would be a couple of weeks before Waste Control can gauge customer response.

One place it was looking to get waste from is the former U.S. Department of Energy uranium processing plant in Fernald, Ohio.

But Gary Stegner, public affairs officer for the U.S. Department of Energy Ohio field office, said a decision on where to send waste from Fernald’s three silos wouldn’t come for another three to four weeks.

But the amendment wasn’t granted without restrictions. Richard Ratliff, radiation program officer for the Department of State Health Services in Austin, said the U.S. Department of Energy would have to provide notice to the State Department of Health Services that the federal agency retains ownership of the waste 30 days before Waste Control can take waste.

Another condition is that DOE would remove the waste from Texas if there were no disposal site in the state within two years. Waste Control has applied for a license from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to dispose of low-level radioactive waste.

If WCS gets the disposal license, the waste could stay at WCS, Ratliff said. But if WCS doesn’t get the license, and the waste is not off-site or out of Texas by October 2007, Waste Control could be subject to civil and administrative penalties, he said.

Meanwhile, Jones said TCEQ has declared Waste Control’s disposal license application "administratively complete" and has set a public meeting to take comments for 7 p.m. March 31 at Andrews High School.