Landgraf’s Ban on High-Level Radioactive Waste Heads to Governor’s Desk

AUSTIN — State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa), who serves the people of Andrews County in the Texas House of Representatives, filed House Bill 7 to prevent the country’s high-level radioactive waste from being shipped into Texas and Andrews County. The Andrews County Commissioner’s Court voted unanimously on July 30th specifically opposing the storage of high-level radioactive waste in the county.

“This was a priority for my constituents in Andrews County and for the entire state of Texas,” Landgraf said. “I appreciate Governor Abbott for adding this issue to the agenda for the special session so that the state could take action before the NRC issues the license later this month. Thankfully, HB 7 received enough votes in the House and Senate to go into effect immediately, protecting Texas from becoming the storage site for the entire country’s high-level radioactive waste.”

The Biden Administration’s U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is poised to issue a license to compel the storage of high-level radioactive waste at a new facility in Andrews County as early as September 13, 2021. If the license is issued, high-level radioactive waste from decommissioned nuclear reactors from all over the country could be stored in West Texas for 40-years. House Bill 7 received more than two-thirds support in the House and Senate, allowing the bill to go into effect immediately upon signature by the governor.

House Bill 7 bans the storage and disposal of high-level radioactive waste anywhere within state lines. Importantly, however, House Bill 7 allows nuclear reactors in Texas to continue operating as normal, storing waste they generate on site. Additionally, the bill does not impact the low-level facility that currently and safely operates in Andrews County, and which generates millions of dollars for the county and state.

“My job is to represent the people of Andrews County, who clearly support the existing low-level facility, but oppose expansion to store high-level waste that is much more radioactive. That’s why I fought to pass HB 7 into law without being amended by anyone who didn’t have the best interests of Andrews at heart. In addition to the governor, I’m thankful to Speaker Dade Phelan, Senator Brian Birdwell, and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick for all they did to ensure House Bill 7 got done. And of course, nothing would have ever happened if it wasn’t for all of my amazing constituents in Andrews who spoke up and demanded action,” Landgraf concluded.

On August 7th, the Texas Legislature was convened by Governor Greg Abbott for a special legislative session. Special sessions in Texas can last for up to 30 days, and the legislature is only permitted to consider legislation related to items placed on the agenda by the governor. Legislation limiting the ability to store high-level radioactive materials was one of the items on the agenda. The House adjourned on September 2nd, bringing the special session to an end pending the governor’s call.