HB 2184 was voted out of the Texas House State Affairs Committee earlier today. HB 2184 is a piece of legislation that impacts how much, from where and how safely radioactive waste will be transported and stored at a West Texas site, and who will pay for it if something goes wrong.
While this bill has been moving rapidly through the Texas legislature, today when being reconsidered in State Affairs, a number of members offered amendments, none of which were agreeable to the bill’s author, Representative Tryon Lewis (R-Odessa) and none of which were amended to the bill that passed out of the committee. Nevertheless, the issues raised by the proposed amendments got the attention of several members of the committee. (more…)
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HB 2184 will probably be voted out of the Texas House State Affairs Committee later this afternoon and so far, legislation that impacts how much, from where and how safely radioactive waste will be stored at a West Texas site is moving forward in favor of the private operator, giving them the power to negotiate private deals to import waste, make a gigantic profit and do it without any oversight by Texas regulatory agencies or the Texas Low-level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission.
According to an article in Mother Jones:
The compact allows him (Simmons) to get paid for burying other states’ nuclear trash while outsourcing much of the risk to Texas taxpayers. Though the state will receive a cut of disposal fees and $36 million to cover “corrective action” and ”post-closure” expenses, it will have to bear any other cleanup costs on its own. According to a report by the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission: “Potential future contamination [from the waste] could not only have a severe impact to the environment and human health, but to the State, which bears the ultimate financial responsibility for compact waste disposal facility site.“
Click here to read the recent Mother Jones article on the history and issues with this site.
In light of the massive cleanup that faces Japan from the radiation that is flooding the area around the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in the wake of its ongoing recovery efforts – seemingly contributed to by Japan’s failure to adequately regulate and reign in the runaway plant operator, is it in Texas’ best interest to just let this company have their way with us?
This bill will go next to the floor of the House and if it continues to move, as we expect it will given the money and influence behind it, on to a Senate committee. If we are to have any chance of making this bill more protective of the health, well-being and pocketbooks of regular Texans, regular Texans are going to have to let their lawmakers know they are concerned.
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Radiation hotspots of Cesium-137 in 1996 resulting from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident. -Wikipedia
Experts believe the radioactive core in reactor No. 2 at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant has melted through the bottom of its containment vessel and on to the concrete floor of the drywell below. This new development has raised fears of a major release of radiation at the site, and some nuclear industry experts are saying that while they don’t believe there is a danger of a Chernobyl-style catastrophe, it’s not going to be good news for the environment.
The major concern when molten fuel breaches a containment vessel is that it will react with the concrete floor of the drywell, releasing radioactive gases into the surrounding area. At Fukushima, the drywell has been flooded with seawater, which was a last ditch effort to cool any molten fuel that escapes from the reactor and reduce the amount of radioactive gas released.
The drywell is surrounded by a secondary steel-and-concrete structure designed to keep radioactive material from escaping into the environment. But an earlier hydrogen explosion at the reactor may have damaged this, and the detection of water outside the containment area that is highly radioactive and can only have come from the reactor core, is a good indication that the containment area has been breached.
In the meantime, countries around the world are reassessing their nuclear power programs. Britain has signaled that they could take a step back from nuclear power in the wake of the disaster. Germany ordered a temporary halt to the country’s seven oldest reactors, and China is considering scaling back their program.
France, which gets about 80 percent of its energy from atomic power and has been the poster child for nuclear power during the recent nuclear renaissance, wants threats from airplane crashes and terrorists excluded from safety checks planned on European reactors following the Fukushima nuclear accident. An interesting stance to take considering as recently as October of 2010, the French defense minister, Herve Morin told the French people that a terrorist threat exists, and could hit them at any moment.
At a minimum, governments should insist on two conditions for the future of the next generation of nuclear power plants: they have to be safe and they can not let the taxpayer be ripped off. This is a opportunity for investment into renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and energy storage that don’t have the potential to be really, really bad news for the environment and the people who live in that environment.
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