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March 23, 2001

Galindo says area waste dump still possible

From Staff and Wire Reports

PECOS, March 23, 2001 - One local official made it clear to the Senate Natural Resource Commission that Reeves County is opposed to a nuclear waste disposal site in the area.

Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo testified in front of the Senate Natural Resources Commission in Austin on Thursday, in opposition of a bill that would allow nuclear waste dump sites in West Texas. He was among a number of people who testified about the plan, which supporters say that the bill allows Texas to meet its requirements to contain the waste under a compact agreement with Maine and Vermont.

The compact - passed by Congress in the 1990s - is part of a nationwide plan to store low-level radioactive waste regionally.

Environmentalists opposed to the plan say Texas could become the nation's largest nuclear waste dump under a bill, which would set up the state's first radioactive disposal site. And while Reeves County and western Ward County have just recently seen one fight over a low level radioactive waste dump ended, another county that was seemingly out of the running for the site two years ago has renewed its efforts to attract the planned waste dump to West Texas.

"This bill tries to meet the obligations of Texas under the compact, and to meet the needs and demands of the state," said Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, the bill's author.

The compact protects the states involved from having to accept waste from other states. Maine and Vermont are close to capacity, while Texas has no permanent site.

Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, has introduced a version of the bill to the House.

"The primary problem with this bill is that it does not allow for public input of the binding referendum or local government consent for a siting of radioactive waste facility," said Galindo.

Under the bill, a county would be able to contract a private company to build a storage facility. The state would own the land where the site was located, as well as the waste itself. The contractor would be paid with fees charged to waste producers.

The Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission would manage and license the operation to ensure the safety of the state.

Galindo said that if the people were going to have to live with a dump in their backyard for the next 500 years then they should have a say as to whether or not they want this in their area.

"The Texas, Maine, Vermont Compact to dispose of nuclear active waste has a provision that will allow importation from all over the country," said Galindo.

For West Texas that's bad, because it would make West Texas the dumping ground for the rest of the country, according to Galindo.

"I also noted for the commission that 70 percent of the waste will come from decommissioning of nuclear power plants," said Galindo.

The waste site would be the state's first permanent storage facility. There are 59 radioactive waste generators in Texas, according to the Bureau of Radiation Control. Many of these sites must store their waste at their own locations in specialized containers.

Nuclear power plants send some of their waste out of state, but in eight years that facility will be closed to Texas radioactive waste producers.

Duncan's bill would allow these producers to send their radioactive rubbish to one centralized storage site.

Envirocare of Texas ended its efforts to locate a waste dump eight miles north of Barstow back in January, as part of the settlement of a lawsuit with Dallas-based Waste Control Specialists.

The dispute began in 1999, after the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission rejected plans for a state-run radioactive waste storage facility near Sierra Blanca in Hudspeth County. Envirocare and WCS both sought to locate the state's low-level radioactive waste facility on land they owned in western Andrews County.

Both companies sought approval from the Legislature, but in the spring of 1999 a University of Texas report indicated underground aquifers were in that area, and the plans were dropped. Envirocare then began looking for a site not above an aquifer, and announced its plan to build one in Ward County in November of 1999.

Galindo said that while Utah-based Envirocare has abandoned its plans in Ward County, the same site could still end up chosen for the storage of low-level waste.

"Even though Envirocare has pulled out of Texas, rights to the land located north of Barstow belong to Waste Control Specialists, the leading company vying to operate this radioactive waste disposal site," said Galindo.

From the Reeves County perspective it still poses a concern because the Waste Control Specialists have the rights to the land. "And this is just 15 miles from Pecos," said Galindo.

The next step will be public testimony before the commission and next, according to Galindo.

"So next week we'll come back and voice our concerns to the full commission and let them know that West Texas does not want to be the dumping ground for the rest of the country," he said.

Galindo said that the county would continue with their efforts in their fight against nuclear waste disposal sites.

Meanwhile, Andrews County has renewed its efforts to have the waste dump located on WCS land on the Texas-New Mexico state line in the county, 30 miles from Andrews and six miles from Eunice, N.M.

"There is no place in Texas or the U.S. with a better educated citizenry, who has a real understanding of this issue," said Lloyd Eisenrich, president of the Andrews Industrial Foundation. "We offer ourselves as a solution to your problem."

The AIF is an organization devoted to economic development in Andrews County, whose sole industry is oil and gas.

Eisenrich said residents of the county supported the bill - numerous organizations there had signed resolutions calling for the waste site - and that the county had been educating its citizens about the proposed facility.

Over the next 35 years, Texas, Maine and Vermont are expected to produce 2.7 million cubic feet of waste. Approximately 75 percent of it will come from dismantling nuclear power plants, according to the TNRCC.


The low-level radioactive waste radioactive bill is SB 1541. The house bill is HB 3420.

Pecos clean-up project given council approval

Staff Writer

PECOS, March 23, 2001 - The Town of Pecos City Council approved an ordinance that instates a new program in Pecos, the Keep Pecos Beautiful program, during the regular meeting last night in Council Chambers at City Hall.

Along with the ordinance, the Council approved nine people who would serve on the Keep Pecos Beautiful (KPB) committee.

Committee Chairman Michael Benavides explained that the program's purpose is to help the city with cleaning Pecos and keeping it clean as well as educate the public.

Benavides said that he is eager to get things started with the program so he presented the Council with a list of committee members he has already chosen.

"I want to get this program started as quickly as possible," he said.

Benavides also said that he chose people to serve on the committee from many different areas such as people in business, the school board and the city.

"I wanted to get people from the community with different backgrounds," he said.

The committee members include Benavides, Administrative Assistant to the Reeves County Judge Randy Baeza, Vice President of West Texas National Bank Paul Hinojos, Wal-Mart Manager Olga Guebarra, Mayor Ray Ortega, Pecos-Barstow-Toyah School Board member Steve Valenzuela, Chamber of Commerce Director Tom Rivera, Councilman Gerald Tellez and Duncan Disposal Representative Ronny Ruiz.

Benavides said that Hinojos had proposed the same program to the council about five or six years ago but did not receive the same support he has received.

"He knew it was a good idea but nothing happened," he said. "He didn't get the support that I've been given."

City Manager Carlos Yerena said that the KPB project would be able to help the city with it's clean-up efforts, which is beneficial to the community.

"They'll help us identify potential clean up projects," he said.

Yerena said that city crews have been doing a wonderful job in cleaning up the alleys.

Utilities Director Octavio Garcia said that his crews have been picking up lumber and mattresses from the alleys but is not picking up major appliances and tires at this time.

Garcia informed the council that they have already finished the Northside alleys and are currently working on the east side alleys were they have already completed from Martinez Street to Mulberry Street.

Yerena said that the city would be working on various clean up projects throughout the year.

"Our clean up efforts are going to be year round," he said.

The first clean up project for the KPB is scheduled for April 7, according to Benavides.

He said that committee members and community volunteers would meet at 8 a.m., at the Gazebo in Maxey Park.

Benavides wants to encourage anyone interested in helping with the clean up to show up at that time.

Plastic trash bags will be provided and volunteers are encouraged to bring gloves due to the fact that they would be picking up glass along with many forms of trash.

"We'd like to get that accomplished first and after that we'll move on to bigger and better things," he said.

In other action, Pecos Police Investigator Paul Dieshler requested the council consider a resolution that would allow the police department to submit a grant application that would allow purchase of two in-car video cameras.

"We're one of the only departments in the area that doesn't have any cameras," he said.

The grant would cover most of the cost of the cameras with the city matching 10 percent of the cost, which totals $1,112.

Yerena assured the Council that the money for the match could be covered by the police department's budget.

"It won't be any cost for the taxpayers at all," Dieshler said.

The council approved the resolution allowing Dieshler to submit the grant application this morning.

The council also approved a lease agreement of real property with the Union Pacific Railroad Company for the land under the old Pecos Railroad Depot.

Johnson informed the Council that the lease agreement is for 20 years beginning this past January.

The city already owns the depot building but could not do anything with it because they do not own the land. The building has been sought for the past two years as the site of a planned Texas Rodeo Hall of Fame Museum.

Council members also approved authorizing the city's financial advisor Larry Skiles to prepare a proposal for refunding outstanding debts obligations.

Skiles told the Council that they would be able to save at least $25,000 to $26,000 if they just tried to refund a series of obligations for 1992.

He said that they would save much more if they included a series for 1995.

The council approved the second reading of an ordinance for the settlement agreement on Southern Union Gas class action litigation in which the city would be able to receive approximately $17,000.

Also approved were accounts payable, the tax collector's and juvenile court reports and the minutes from the previous regular and special Council meetings.

The council also passed the request of purchase for 405 South Mesquite to Alfred Garcia for $1,000 and 1401 South Cypress to Sylvia Lujan for $2,025.

The council is the second taxing entity to approve these requests.

Ministry holds youth revival this weekend

PECOS, March 23, 2001 - A youth rally will be held tonight and Saturday, and volunteers are being sought by the group sponsoring it to help with their prison ministry program in West Texas.

The rally is scheduled for tonight and Saturday beginning at 7-9 p.m. at Saragosa Plaza, located at Fifth and Locust streets. On Saturday, the revival will be held from 7-9 p.m. at the Plaza.

A special youth rally will be held from 2-4 p.m., on Saturday and the youth in the community are invited to attend.

"We will be working with the citizens of Pecos in order to reach and make a difference in the people's lives of your town," said Pastor Alfredo Carrera, Forever Free Prison Ministry, who is sponsoring the event.

"We plan to have a community outreach," said Carrera.

Tito Hernandez said the group is also seeking volunteers to help with their prison ministry program. Anyone interested in helping who cannot attend this weekend's events should call Hernandez at (505) 395-2074 or (505) 395-2684.

Carrera said that the group would be having a live band, testimonies and special songs.

Commissioners to again discuss dump resolution

PECOS, March 23, 2001 - A Radioactive Waste Disposal Opposition Resolution will be the topic of discussion at Monday's regular Reeves County Commissioners Court.

Commissioners will meet at 9:30 a.m., to discuss and approve the resolution following a bill that would allow for the sites to be located in West Texas.

Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo testified before the Senate Natural Resource Commission on Thursday and will again be in Austin next Thursday to voice public opposition to the sites in West Texas.

In other business, commissioners will discuss and take action on a resolution regarding an Intermediate Facility Sanction; road and bridge heavy equipment financing; American Red Cross Resolution and DRG Architect Invoice No. 238-Expense reiumbursement.

The group will also discuss and take action on salvage items-Reeves County Sheriff's Office and county tax-assessor office; Brown Family land donation to Reeves County; amendment to Intertel contract and Ricardo G. Valenzuela as Reserve Deputy for the Reeves County Sheriff's Office.

Regular items for discussion and action include:

Reports from various departments.

Budget amendments and line-item transfers

Personnel and salary changes (RCDC).

Minutes from previous meetings.

Semi-monthly bills.

Spread on the Minutes: contract between Reeves County and MGT of America; notice of over axle-over gross weight tolerance permits and surety bond for Reeves County Golf Course Beer License.

Rec department signing-up girls for softball play

PECOS, March 23, 2001 - The Reeves County Community Sports and Recreation Department is signing up girls between the ages of 7 and 12 for its softball program.

Registration fee is $10 per player and both parents must sign a form and bring their daughter's birth certificate when registering at the RCCRD office in the old Pecos High School gym. Deadline to register is April 27.

For further information, call the RCCRD office at 447-9776.


PECOS, March 23, 2001 - High Thursday 92. Low this morning 49. Forecast for tonight: Mostly cloudy with a chance of showers or thunderstorms. Low in the mid 40s. East wind 5 to 15 mph. The chance of rain is 30 percent. Saturday: Mostly cloudy with a chance of showers. High 60 to 65. Northeast wind 10 to 20 mph. The chance of rain is 30 percent. Saturday night: Mostly cloudy with a slight chance of showers. Low around 40. The chance of rain is 20 percent. Sunday: Mostly cloudy with a slight chance of showers. High 60 to 65. Monday: Partly cloudy. Lows in the 40s. Highs in the mid 70s.

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Pecos Enterprise
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