Saturday, March 24, 2012
A state agency with oversight of waste imports adopted rules Friday that help clear the way for the 1,338-acre dump near the New Mexico border, despite concerns expressed by environmentalists that such a facility may be unsafe. Its operator, Waste Control Specialists LLC, still needs final approval from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, but expects to receive it within several weeks. The company is majority-owned by Texas billionaire Harold Clark Simmons, one of the nation's wealthiest men and a major donor to Republican state and national political candidates.
Supporters of the project, located in a remote red-clay formation just east of the New Mexico-Texas state line about 31 miles from the town of Andrews, Texas, maintain it is environmentally safe and note that it will generate needed revenue for Texas.
Critics contend that water near the disposal site could become contaminated by the waste, which can include radioactive material from nuclear-power plants, research facilities and hospitals. They also say that truckloads of refuse will be traveling through Texas with insufficient oversight, creating a recipe for trouble if they get into accidents.
Waste Control Specialists estimated that Texas would receive as much as 25% of the revenue from the disposal of imported waste, up to a total of $20 million annually. (WSJ, 3/23/2012, photo courtesy WSJ)