Alliance of Texas environmental, oil interests block bill that would have given nuclear waste company a financial break

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The entrance to the Waste Control Specialists site, where radioactive and hazardous waste is disposed of and stored in Andrews County. Credit: Eli Hartman for The Texas Tribune

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A bill opposed by both environmental and some oil interests that would have given a nuclear waste company in West Texas a big break on state fees failed to receive a vote in the Texas House before a key deadline on Monday.

House Bill 2692, which also would have banned the most dangerous type of radioactive waste from entering Texas for disposal under state law, was blocked from advancing by a point of order brought by state Reps. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, and Harold Dutton, D-Houston.

It was sent back to committee and has failed to be voted out a second time before Monday, the last day House committees could report measures and have a chance of passing.

State Rep. Brooks Landgraf, R-Odessa, whose district includes Andrews County, where the nuclear waste company Waste Control Specialists operates, had sought in the legislation to stop a plan to build a 332-acre site in West Texas near the New Mexico border to store the riskiest type of nuclear waste: spent fuel rods from nuclear power plants, which can remain dangerously radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years.

But opponents of the bill — including Craddick, whose district is nearby — said the legislation wasn’t strong enough to stop the federal government from forcing Texas to take the dangerous materials. Opponents believe the primary purpose of the legislation was to give the company a break on fees it pays for its existing lower-level radioactive waste disposal facility.

“This legislation would have not added the protections needed to prevent a high level radioactive waste ban in Texas,” Craddick wrote in a statement saying he “killed” Landgraf’s bill. “Walking back on a promise to the Permian Basin is not an option.”