Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
March 30, 2001
Committee hears local opposition to area N-dump
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, March 30, 2001 - Two area officials were on hand in Austin on
Thursday to testify before the Senate Natural Resource Committee against
a nuclear waste disposal site in the area.
Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo testified in front of the Senate
Natural Resources Committee in Austin for the second time in as many weeks,
in opposition of a bill by State Sen. Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock) that would
allow nuclear waste dump sites in West Texas.
Duncan represents Loving and northern Reeves County in the Texas Senate.
A similar bill has been introduced in the House by Rep. Warren Chisum (R-Pampa).
Ward County Commissioner Precinct 1 Julian Florez, whose precinct had
been scheduled to be the site of a proposed low-level radioactive waste
dump until earlier this year, joined Galindo in Austin, and the two were
among a number of people who testified about the plan.
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.
Officials in Reeves and parts of Ward County have been opposed to one
site proposal, by Envirocare of Texas to locate a waste dump eight miles
north of Barstow back in January. That plan was abandoned as part of the
settlement of a lawsuit with Dallas-based Waste Control Specialists, but
Andrews County is seeking to have the dump located on WCS land 30 miles
from Andrews and six miles from Euince, N.M., and Galindo said WCS also
has an option on the Barstow site.
"The decision to dispose of radioactive waste in this region of Texas,
should allow the people in that region to vote," said Galindo.
Galindo said that he was testifying for the second time before the Senate
Natural Resource Committee.
"The other issue is we also testified that the intention of the compact
was to minimize the amount of waste, however the compact has a big loophole
that will allow the state to bring in waste from all over the country,"
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.
"The potential exists for this facility to become a national dumpsite
for the rest of the country," said Galindo. "Over the last 20 years compact
throughout the country have been trying to establish disposal sites and
none have been successful," he said.
Florez said that the main thing was that the site is closer to Pecos
than it is to Monahans. "Everyone that is going to be affected should have
a right to vote," said Florez.
Florez said that while testifying before the committee, Senator Gonzalo
Barrientos of Austin had asked him what about his constituents and what
their opinion was on the matter. "He asked me what are you constituents
telling you and that's when I told him what their concerns were," said
Florez said he had told the committee that his constituents were concerned
because they felt they were targeting our community. "They told me that
they felt that because they were Hispanics they were targeting this area,"
"They said they were concerned for their forbearers and want a future
for the other generation," said Florez. "It's a health risk and they just
don't want it here, period," he said.
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,"
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," he said.
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.
Sen. Duncan's bill would allow these producers to send their radioactive
rubbish to one centralized storage site.
The low-level radioactive waste radioactive bill is SB 1541. The house
bill is HB 3420.
Emergency planners offer WIPP update
By LEIA HOLLAND
PECOS, March 30, 2001 - Local emergency responders were able to learn
more information about the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) located near
Carlsbad, NM during a meeting held at Thursday afternoon at Council Chambers
in City Hall.
Mike Rutherford, emergency planner for the Texas Department of Health,
and Anthony Buck, assistant radiological emergency planner for the Texas
Department of Public Safety, met with the emergency responders to discuss
the transportation and shipment of hazardous waste through Reeves County
to the WIPP site, which is scheduled to begin later this year.
Rutherford and Buck have both visited with various communities in Texas
that are located on the designated route for the hazardous waste to travel
"We have made a complete loop through Texas on I-20," Rutherford said.
"We are really trying to get this information out to the public," Buck
WIPP officials designated Interstate 20 as the route that would bring
hazardous waste through Texas from the East Coast to the WIPP site.
According to a handout Buck provided to the responders, WIPP is "a cornerstone
in the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) national clean-up strategy."
The WIPP facility is designed to "permanently dispose of transuranic
radioactive waste generated by defense program activities."
Rutherford explained that the radioactive waste is stored in 50-gallon
plastic lined drums where the waste is placed in another plastic bag and
sealed inside the drum.
According to the handout, "transuranic waste consists primarily of clothing,
tools, rags, and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts
of radioactive elements, mostly plutonium."
Due to the fact that the U.S. has been producing such waste for about
50 years with the manufacturing of nuclear weapons the government has spent
most of that time looking for ways to dispose of it.
Rutherford said that the National Academy of Science suggested storing
the waste in salt where it would stay dry and out of harms way.
Once at the WIPP site the waste is taken over 2,000 feet below the surface
into a "disposable room" in the salt vein where it would stay for eternity.
Rutherford and Buck explained that the salt would slowly creep around
the drums by three to five inches a year soon sealing it off.
Rutherford said that the shipments would arrive at the plant unescorted
by tractor-trailer loaded in special containers called Transportation Packaging
Transporter Model 2, or TRUPACT-II.
"Each container weighs a little less than 20,000 lbs. fully loaded,"
He explained that the drivers who would be hauling the waste across
country have many guidelines and standards in which they have to abide
"The drivers are not allowed to have any moving violations on their
commercial record," he said.
Rutherford said that once travel began the at least one driver would
be with the shipment at all times and would make a thorough inspection
25 miles from the pickup site as well as once every two hours or 100 miles.
Buck explained that each truck is hooked up to a TRANSCOM system, allowing
the state, WIPP, and other users to track the status of each truck.
"So I'll be able to watch the truck coming through Texas," he said.
Rutherford said that each truck has four means of communication to the
outside "world" with each truck equipped with TRANSCOM, a satellite phone,
a cellular phone and a CB radio.
Buck explained that the DPS office is willing to help communities in
the path of the waste material protect themselves with local planning.
He said that the DPS office has a sample of various annexes including
Annex D, which involves radiological protection.
Rutherford said he appreciates the cooperation that Reeves County has
given to them and the WIPP project over the years and believes that of
all the counties in Texas that would deal with this material, Reeves is
the most prepared and qualified to handle matters is an accident were to
He added that local Emergency Management Coordinator Armando Gil and
the Assistant Coordinator Lupe Nieto are well trained and capable of handling
"I feel comfortable that they know how to respond," he said.
Rutherford explained that both Gil and Nieto have hundreds of hours
in emergency training and are known by major state officials all over Texas.
"These two people are a major asset to the community and to the state,"
Rutherford and Buck said that the DOE is more than willing to come back
to Pecos to give an eight hour training course to the local emergency responders
free of charge and would help the citizens of Pecos and Reeves County in
For more information on the transporting of the nuclear waste contact
Rutherford at firstname.lastname@example.org or Buck at email@example.com.
For more information about WIPP or to schedule a tour of the WIPP facility
contact Kenneth Aragon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I-20 crash kills Clint woman after vehicle strikes guardrail
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, March 30, 2001 - A Clint woman was killed in a one-vehicle rollover
on Interstate 20 just east of Toyah Thursday night.
The accident happened at 9:05 p.m., on I-20 near mile marker 23, one-half
mile east of Toyah according to the Texas Department of Public Safety,
who identified the victim as Diana Gonzales Romero, 22, a secretary from
Romero was found unresponsive and with no pulse in the vehicle when
officers arrived at the site of the accident. Justice of the Peace J.T.
Marsh pronounced her dead at the scene and her body was taken to Pecos
According to the accident report by DPS Trooper Eric White of Monahans,
the vehicle was eastbound on I-20 at a high rate of speed. The driver was
inattentive and she lost control of her vehicle.
The vehicle veered to the right and slid broadside into a guardrail
with the driver's side impacted severely on the end of the guardrail.
The vehicle came to rest 45 feet from the road facing northeast.
Ex-Pecosite set to try hand at kickboxing competition
By LEIA HOLLAND
PECOS, March 30, 2001 - A former Pecos resident fights towards the world
championship this weekend at Graham Central Station in Odessa.
Russell Jones, a 1996 Pecos High School graduate, is scheduled as the
main event at a Tae Kwon Do tournament, Saturday, where he will be fighting
an opponent from Holland.
Jones has spent most of his life training in Tae Kwon Do and recently
started up kickboxing.
"I've been doing Tae Kwon Do tournaments since fifth grade," he said.
"I took up kick-boxing as a compliment to my skills about three years ago."
What started out as just a hobby has now become Jones' passion and life.
Jones trains six to seven days a week and competes in several tournaments
with an amateur status for both Tae Kwon Do and kickboxing.
"All Tae Kwon Do tournaments would be considered amateur, since we don't
get paid even at the world competition level," he said. "As far as kick-boxing,
there is a lot more spotlight attention. Currently, I am amateur, waiting
for the right time and place to turn pro."
Jones said he trains for at least three to four hours a day and sometimes
all day long on the weekends.
"It is not unusual to arrive at the training hall at about 7 a.m., on
a Saturday or Sunday and stay until 8 p.m., at night," he said. "Those
days seem to never end. But, it's the price you gotta pay, ask anyone at
the top, in anything they do."
Jones hopes to raise enough money this year to be able to participate
as an USA team member at the world championship that will be held in Italy.
Jones said that like many other sports organizations in the U.S., the
United States Tae Kwon Do Federation (USTF) is not funded by the government
so the money has to come from sponsorships and donations.
"The USTF pays for some of my trip, but not all," he said. "It costs
on average about $5,000 for each athlete to go to a world championship."
This is not the first year that Jones has been honored with a slot of
the U.S. team. He has been named to the U.S. team three times, which Jones
said was his greatest accomplishment.
"My biggest accomplishments are being chosen to represent USA in the
world championships held every two to three years," he said. "I was on
the team in 1997 for St. Petersburg, Russia, and in the 1999 for Buenos
Aires, Argentina. I am currently on the 2001 USA team for competition in
Rimini, Italy this summer."
Jones has been one of many fighters from all over the U.S., representing
our country at world championship competitions but this year he is a little
closer to the team than usual.
"This time is different, Odessa swept all 12 slots at Nationals in Denver
this January," he said. "The whole team is from Odessa."
Along with the many years of fighting experience and training, Jones
has many titles under his belt.
In 1995, while still in high school, Jones was named Heavyweight Champ
of North America.
He also won the title of Heavyweight Champ of USA in 1997 and the Hyper-Heavyweight
Champ of USA in both 1999 and 2001.
Jones was also ranked fifth in the world in 1999.
In kickboxing, Jones is the current Heavyweight West Texas titleholder.
While not competing or training, Jones spends his time helping others.
Jones is a Tae Kwon Do instructor at the second largest junior high
school in Texas, Ector Junior High in Odessa.
"I teach Tae Kwon Do to all sorts of kids, I have about 250 students,"
he said. "It's something I love to do."
Jones said that teaching has many rewards especially when he knows he
is helping a student.
"Its rewards are knowing that I was involved in helping guide someone
who needed help," he said. "I also feel that somewhere in that school,
I will find the next someone to one day out do me and make me proud, for
that is any teachers' only true dream to come true."
Jones will hopefully make his students, friends, family and teammates
proud as he is competing in the main title event this Saturday at Graham's
Central Station in Odessa.
Graham's is located at 4240 Preston Smith Road. The fights start at
4 p.m. and will run until about 8 p.m. Tickets are available at the door
at $8 for adults and $4 for children 12 and under.
Postal service ends for Hill after 40 years
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, March 30, 2001 - One long-time Pecos Post Office employee plans
to take it easy and enjoy his grandchildren following his announcement
that he will be retiring.
Norman Hill, who has been a post office employee for the past 40 years
and eight months, is bidding farewell to his co-workers and customers today.
A farewell reception was held at the Post Office for a Hill and another
gathering is planned for tomorrow.
Hill has lived here since 1948 and worked at Duval and other jobs, before
starting as a letter carrier, which he did for several years. He was later
promoted to sales associate and has been a friendly face behind the counter
for several years.
"We're going to miss Norman tremendously," said Pecos Postmaster Herman
Armendariz. "He has been a real asset and a great friend."
Hill said that now he plans to just take it easy and spend more time
with his children and grandchildren.
He and his late wife Arlene had four children, Conda Zimdars, of Fort
Davis, Craig and Gary Hill and Debbie Riley of Pecos. He also has eight
At his farewell gathering this morning at the post office, Armendariz
presented Hill with a plaque for his 40 years of service and a watch engraved
on the back.
His children Craig and Debbie were on hand at the post office and both
said they would enjoy spending more time with their father.
Daylight Savings to resume Sunday
WASHINGTON (AP) - Many Americans will lose an hour's sleep this weekend.
That's because it's time to spring forward to daylight-saving time.
For most of the nation the official change occurs at 2 a.m. Sunday,
though most will probably change their clocks before hitting the sack Saturday
Those who forget will be an hour late for church, work or other events
on Sunday. Daylight-saving time lasts until Oct. 28.
Safety officials suggest that this annual ritual is also a good time
to change the battery in each smoke detector, to be sure they will work
Some parts of the country don't observe daylight-saving time. Those
include Arizona, Hawaii, the part of Indiana located in the Eastern time
zone, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa.
PECOS, March 30, 2001 - High Thursday 75. Low this morning 48. Forecast
for tonight: Increasing cloudiness with a 20 percent chance of showers
and thunderstorms. Low 40 to 45. Southeast wind 5 to 15 mph. Saturday:
Mostly sunny. High in the lower 70s. West wind 10 to 20 mph becoming north
during the afternoon. Saturday night: Clear. Low around 40. Sunday and
Monday: Partly cloudy. Lows in the 40s. Highs from the mid 70s to the mid
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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