Harold Simmons' Radioactive Waste Dump Gets the Go-Ahead from State Regulators

Categories: Biz

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A radioactive waste disposal company owned by Harold Simmons' Dallas-based Contran Corp. has been given the green light by state regulators to dispose of low-grade radioactive waste at a West Texas site.

Representative Lon Burnam, who says he possesses confidential documentation exposing an undercurrent of dissent and worry within the agency over the disposal site, expressed disappointment when Unfair Park reached him Friday afternoon. "I think it's not appropriate," he said.

In 2009, Burnam filed an open records request with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality requesting documents related to Waste Control Specialists' permit application. The documents Burnam received, he says, prove TCEQ scientists fear the disposal site may contaminate groundwater -- even, perhaps, the vast Ogallala Aquifer. Despite the fact that its own scientists recommended denying Simmons' permit, it persisted, prompting a few of them to resign in protest.

Burnam says TCEQ forced him to sign a confidentiality agreement before they would hand over the documents. Last week, he called on state attorney general Greg Abbott to issue an opinion stating Burnam can release them to the public. Abbott, he says, hasn't responded. "We really never expected to hear from the attorney general's office," Burnam said. "Not when you consider how much money the attorney general has received in contributions from Mr. Simmons."

Indeed, Simmons, one of the most prolific disclosed donors to federal elections in the country, has given nearly $700,000 over the years to Abbott's re-election campaigns, according to campaign finance reports. He's equally as active in state politics, and succeeded in lobbying the legislature to pass a bill allowing private companies to handle radioactive waste. He lobbied for a second bill that resulted in the issuance of a single permit -- which his company, of course, secured.

Apart from a lawsuit filed against the TCEQ by the Sierra Club (set for court May 8), Burnam says there's nothing stopping Simmons, even though there's evidence of water seeping into the disposal wells. As recently as March, a report to the TCEQ from the company noted that since November 2011 it had pumped some 23,000 gallons out of one of the radioactive waste disposal wells, indicating they may not be isolated from the water table.


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12 comments
Fletch
Fletch

Jeez...this is a freaking catastrophe in the making.  These damn politicians (Abbott, etc.) know what's about to happen, but they are siding with the almighty dollar rather than their constituents.  I can't say as though I'm the least bit surprised.  It's still infuriating, though.

GusMitchem
GusMitchem

I love the propaganda photo

Like the stuff is just stored in grandpas old oil barrels 

good to glow
good to glow

Great! maybe the contaminated ground water will kill off the invasive bastard cabbage which is choking out the bluebonnets. Good news!

CheeryBitch
CheeryBitch

This with all the fracking nonsense.... with the right match, Texas will explode and leave nothing but a Texas shaped crater holding Perry's hair, Abbot's wheelchair, JWP.......

DoubleOJoe
DoubleOJoe

That's exactly how low-level waste is stored.  In fact, it can even be stored in wooden crates, depending on what exactly it is.  Check the fine print on the manifest:

http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/...

engmofo
engmofo

We already have a large mutant cabbage in the Governors mansion

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

Band name alert -- "Invasive Bastard Cabbage"

Paul
Paul

 Or even better ... "Bulk Unpackaged Waste" and "Other.  Describe in Item 6, or additional page"

So, I guess grandpa's oil oil barrels may be just fine.

The real problem, AFAIK, is that there is no standard for allowable levels of radioactivity in drinking water other than ... "none".

Paul
Paul

 The League of United Mutant Cabbageheads resents that remark and are highly insulted by it.

A-nony-mouse
A-nony-mouse

 First Album Title: Choking out the Bluebonnets

AV Squad
AV Squad

"Invasive Bastard Cabbage" and "Angry Vaginas" are appearing together at this Weekend's UnFairParkaPalooza !

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