Andrews, Texas Likely to Be Nuclear Waste Dump Site & What It Means for Lubbock
Imagine you live in a small town that may literally become a dump.
Not just a trash heap, but a repository for actual high-level nuclear waste.
Would you want to live there? Would you want your family to?
Those are the questions residents of Andrews, Texas are now facing.
The high-level nuclear waste could arrive to the outskirts of Andrews as early as 2021. Which sounds like the future, but is only a handful of years away.
Andrews is actually already a nuclear dump -- of low-level waste (read: medical equipment), which is arguably low-risk for potential problems. It's the only nuclear dump site of its type in Texas and has helped the town, you guessed it, economically. Now, residents are caught deciding between safety and prosperity, because high-level waste is the much more dangerous kind that doesn't decay for thousands of years.
How could this high-level dump effect Lubbock? According to Texas Monthly:
The high-level waste project in Andrews has statewide implications. According to NPR, the WCS facility would have the capacity to take up to 80 percent of the waste currently being stored at shut-down reactors across the nation, drawing nuclear waste from as far away as Oregon and New York. That means high-level nuclear waste would need to be transported through (or at least nearby) more densely populated parts of Texas, something that may not sit well with the state’s metros.
That's right: highly dangerous nuclear waste could be driven through Lubbock, and puts us one accident from a dangerous spill in our hometown. Andrews is between Lubbock and Midland/Odessa if you go through Seminole instead of Lamesa.
On the other hand, Amarillo has been home to the Pantex Facility, which "is the nation’s primary facility for the final assembly, dismantlement and maintenance of nuclear weapons," for many years. So it's not as if we haven't already been adjacent to nuclear materials. In fact, that low-level waste that Andrews is already storing is typically the by-product of medical devices which may have saved your life at some point.
Lubbock County, in theory, could pass an resolution forbidding trucks to pass through with nuclear materials. It's certainly an issue worth paying attention to in the next few years.
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