(Photo: High level nuclear waste storage containers similar to what will be used in West Texas)
When it comes to finding a destination for nuclear waste, the deserts and prairies of West Texas and eastern New Mexico seem to exert a curious and persistent appeal.
Culberson County has now joined the regional list as a possible endpoint for the nation’s spent nuclear fuel. Austin-based AFCI Texas, LLC – which has previously floated the high-level-waste proposal in both Hudspeth and Loving counties – made its pitch in a meeting with county and city officials in Van Horn Tuesday, June 2, the Van Horn Advocate reported.
AFCI representatives were scheduled to return to Van Horn and “continue the conversation,” in a meeting open to the public Thursday (June 11), beginning at 6 p.m. at the Karen D. Young Auditorium.
According to the Advocate, AFCI is proposing to purchase “several thousand acres” about 9 miles north of Kent and Interstate 10 – and about 40 miles east of Van Horn – for the long-term storage of the spent fuel. In their presentation, AFCI representatives Bill Jones and Monty Humble said the waste would be stored aboveground, in steel containers, across a 350-acre area. They said the company would turn the property over to the state of Texas, the Advocate said, and then lease the property back from the state.
Jones and Humble said the radioactive waste would be transported by rail, the Advocate said. More than 70,000 tons of high-level waste might be stored indefinitely at the site.
Jones and Humble emphasized the potential economic benefits to Culberson County – including development of area infrastructure, payments in lieu of taxes and support for emergency services in the county, the Advocate said. And the men noted that, with multiple entities in the region bidding for the project, Culberson County could end up being exposed to the risks of high-level nuclear-waste, without reaping any of the financial benefits.