Waste Control Specialists

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Waste Control Specialists
Type Public
Industry Nuclear Materials
Founded 1989
Headquarters Dallas, Texas
Key people

Harold Simmons, Owner Rodney A. Baltzer, CEO

William J. Lindquist, CFO
Employees 155
Website www.wcstexas.com

Waste Control Specialists is a treatment, storage, & disposal company dealing in radioactive, hazardous, and mixed wastes. Controlled by billionaire investor Harold Simmons, the company was founded in Dallas, Texas in 1989 as a landfill operator, and awarded a unique license for disposal of low level radioactive waste in 2009. Its main operations are in remote West Texas.

WCS is one of five subsidiaries of the holding company Valhi, Inc., with corporate offices in Dallas. Valhi, Inc. is publicly traded on the NYSE under the ticker VHI.

Operations in Andrews, Texas[edit]

The organization's main operation is a fully permitted, 1,338-acre treatment, storage and disposal facility near Andrews, Texas.

WCS’ facility in western Andrews County is the only commercial facility in the United States licensed in more than 30 years 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 served as a temporary storage facility for U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) projects.[1]

WCS met all operating guidelines established by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).[2] TCEQ Executive Director (August 2004 to June 2008), Glenn Shankle, later became a lobbyist for WCS. State records indicate he earned as much as $149,999 per year from WCS.[3]

The WCS facility also is the site of the disposal facility for the Texas Low Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact, and most recently was the site of the storage and disposal of byproduct material from the DOE Fernald, Ohio cleanup site. [4] In 2011 a vote was held by the Texas Low Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission that will allow WCS to import waste from 36 other states across the US. [5]

Disposal of low-level radioactive waste will be in concrete containers buried 30 to 100 feet below the surface in tarp-lined cells in the red bed clay formations. Space between the containers will be grouted to help prevent shifting. As the cells are filled, they will be covered by more than 300 feet of liner material and red bed clay and the surface will be restored to its natural state.[6]

The plant is located 5 miles east of Eunice, New Mexico, and 35 miles west of Andrews. The surrounding area on both sides of the state border, "nuclear alley", also includes:

Criticism[edit]

Critics allege that millions in donations by Harold Simmons to Texas Governor Rick Perry and other politicians influenced political support for the controversial project.

After WCS drilled almost 600 wells to document the hydrology of the site, the state of Texas determined the WCS facility does not sit above or adjacent to any underground drinking water formations.[7] The Texas Water Development Board purportedly changed maps that had previously indicated the site lay above the Ogallala Aquifer.[8] The individuals responsible for approving the facility's license at TCEQ, and those who revised aquifer maps, were appointed by Governor Perry. Members of the Texas Low Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission, which voted to expand the facility, were also appointed by Governor Perry. [9]

Critics also cite WCS' safety record after losing a 22-ton shipment of radioactive material in 2001 for almost a month.[10] The company was fined in 2004 & 2005 for a string of incidents including an employee improperly releasing radioactive material by flushing it down a toilet. The company agreed to pay $161,000 in fines.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Waste Control Specialists". Archived from the original on 2010-08-19. WCS is now the only facility in the United States licensed in the last 30 years, to dispose of Class A, B, and C low level radio active waste. 
  2. ^ "Radio Active Material License" (PDF). Archived from the original on January 2010. Retrieved 2009-11-17. Radio Active Materials License  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  3. ^ "Texas Ethics Commission Archive". 
  4. ^ Fischer, Timothy. "US EPA Feild Production Center". Archived from the original on January 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-19. WCS is now the only facility in the United States licensed in the last 30 years, to dispose of Class A, B, and C low level radio active waste. 
  5. ^ "Senate Approves Bringing In More Radioactive Waste". 
  6. ^ "Waste Control Specialists". Archived from the original on 2010-08-19. WCS is now the only facility in the United States licensed in the last 30 years, to dispose of Class A, B, and C low level radio active waste. 
  7. ^ The WCS website states that, although water is present at 800-1,000 feet below the surface, the water is considered "non potable and too salty for irrigation use". (http://www.wcstexas.com/fac_features.html)
  8. ^ "How Does Your Water Glow?". 
  9. ^ "Perry Donor's Radioactive Waste Site Deal Scrutinized". 
  10. ^ "Coming Soon To A Highway Near You". 
  11. ^ "Good to Glow". 

Coordinates: 32°26′34″N 103°03′06″W / 32.44287°N 103.05174°W / 32.44287; -103.05174