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Anti-nuclear waste tour to come through Midland via art

Meetings push to block a proposal to transport used nuclear fuel by train and store it in West Texas

Organizers of the “Protect Texas from Radioactive Waste Tour” plan to travel to five Texas cities over the next week in protest of a proposed plan to store used nuclear materials in West Texas.

Several Texas organizations gathered in Houston on Tuesday to kick off their “Protect Texas from Radioactive Waste Tour,” the beginning of a renewed push to block a proposal to transport used nuclear fuel by train through Texas and store it in West Texas.

The tour’s organizers said they want to make people aware of the “high risk” implications of a proposal to build and operate a facility for 40,000 metric tons of irradiated fuel rods at an existing site in Andrews County.

If approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the project by Interim Storage Partners, a joint venture between Waste Control Specialists and Orano USA, would transport nuclear waste from around the country to the consolidated site in Texas and store it until a long-term storage site becomes available, according to the venture’s website.

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Interim Storage Partners did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the tour, but on its website, it emphasizes the safety of its operations.

“Since 1965, more than 2,700 shipments of used fuel have been safely transported nearly 2 million miles across the United States — and there has never been a radiological release caused by a transportation accident,” Interim Storage Partners’ website said.

The website adds that “the transport cask surrounding the canister is specifically engineered with multiple barriers, including containment boundary, structural shell, gamma shielding material, and solid neutron shield,” and that the canister is sealed in thick-walled concrete when it arrives at the storage facility.

Smith said that after the news conference, the organizations planned to ask the Houston City Council to adopt a resolution against the proposed transportation of the nuclear material. He added that commissioners in San Antonio and Midland have already adopted similar resolutions.

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Federal lawmakers are mulling an amendment to the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 that could accelerate the development of nuclear material storage sites. The amendment would require the Department of Energy to start its own program “to consolidate and temporarily store commercial spent nuclear fuel during the development, construction, and operation of a permanent nuclear waste repository.”

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