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Thursday, December 2, 1999

Envirocare's VP defends Barstow  dump plan

Staff Writer
PECOS, Dec. 2, 1999 - The vice president of a company seeking to build a low-level radioactive waste disposal facility 14 miles northeast of Pecos was in town on Wednesday to deliver a copy of the company's proposal to Town of Pecos City officials and to present the company's side of the current dispute.

Envirocare of Texas has filed a license application with the Texas Department of Health for a long-term storage facility for low-level radioactive waste. It would be built eight miles northeast of Barstow in Ward County, and Rick Jacobi, vice president and general counsel for the company, was in town to discuss plans for the site and to address concerns over its safety.

Resolutions have been passed by Reeves County, the Town of Pecos City, the Red Bluff Water Power Control Board and the city of Grandfalls in opposition to the site, but Jacobi said he had spoken with several individuals in Barstow and Ward County, and found that many were all for the facility.

"It will create jobs and help the economy," said Jacobi.

The site selected is north of Barstow near the Loving County line, on land owned by John Forrester. "The good thing about this site is that no water flows into the Pecos River," said Jacobi. He said the runoff at the site flows towards Soda Lake, a low spot just north of FM 2355.

Jacobi said the company has spent months testing and evaluating potential locations in West Texas for a suitable site that meets and exceeds all the requirements for an above ground storage facility. The Barstow site was chosen due to the absence of an underground aquifer.

"We ran many tests and there is no water," said Jacobi.

"The West Texas area possesses every quality of a suitable location for our facility. We want to build a safe, economically beneficial business in Ward County," Jacobi said. "The issue of meeting all state and federal requirements is not something we take lightly and we will, as we always, have, make the safety of the community our top priority."

Jacobi said Envirocare plans to build their own road leading to the facility and will enter into an interlocal agreement to provide emergency services with either Ward County or Reeves County, should it be needed.

Earlier reports indicated Envirocare's agreements would be for services out of Monahans, which is more than twice the distance from the site as Pecos. Emergency services in the Barstow area are traditionally provided out of Pecos, using Reeves County Hospital.

"If there were to be an accident, it would be nothing more than a normal industrial accident," said Jacobi.

One of the recommendations made by Ward County Judge Sam Massey was that Envirocare establish a hazardous treatment section of Ward Memorial Hospital.

"It's really not even necessary," said Jacobi.

The company also said in response to Massey that Envirocare has provided an emergency plan in conjunction with the licensing of the facility. It outlines cooperation with local emergency responders including fire, law enforcement and medical facilities.

"Even though the safety procedures that we will institute at the facility will eliminate the possibility of any serious accidents, we are committed to providing training to the doctors and staff of the Ward Memorial Hospital in dealing with the range of possible emergency conditions that might arise at the facility," according to Jacobi.

Envirocare of Texas is a subsidiary of Envirocare of Utah, and Jacobi said, "In almost 12 years of operations in Tooele County (Utah), Envirocare has never had a radiation exposure accident. Furthermore, the waste that will come to Ward County will come in sealed steel containers and will not be directly handled by our employees. This will further decrease the possibility of a serious accident."

He added that if it's shielded and handled correctly, the waste that will be coming in would not be harmful.

As far as what would be brought to the site, Jacobi said, "Some parts of reactors will be transported to the facility, but not spent fuels." They include pipes, valves and items such as this, but not spent fuels.

"Spent fuels are kept on site or shipped to Yucca Mountain in Nevada," he said, where the federal government is currently doing tests before building a high-level waste facility.

Jacobi stated that radioactive waste decays over time and that irradiated metal parts are short-lived.

"But not just because it's long-lived, does it mean it's harmful," said Jacobi. He added that radioactive items already being transported through the area, for commercial use in El Paso.

He said the permitting process could take 18-24 months before construction could begin. Once operational, Jacobi anticipates annual support to Ward County would begin with approximately $250,000 in the first year.

The main office would likely be located in Monahans or Barstow and the facility would generate about 100 jobs. "To start off with, like any new business, we would begin with about 30 jobs," said Jacobi. "And as business grows and we get more business, we will add jobs, eventually making it a bigger operation."

Beginning salary for laborers and mechanics would be anywhere from $10-$14 an hour and for skilled workers, such as lab employees and physicists, starting salaries would be well above $50,000 a year.

Life expectancy of the facility has been set for about 40 years, according to Jacobi.

Envirocare would be overseen by the Texas Department of Health. "They will monitor the facility," he said.

Envirocare of Texas applied to build the facility to allow Texas to meet its interstate requirements to manage low-level radioactive waste generated in the State of Texas, Maine and Vermont. The Compact agreement was originally signed by the State of Texas to protect the state from being forced to accept large amounts of waste from numerous states and limit the type of waste tat will be imported for disposal or long-term storage.

Initially, Texas planed to bury the waste underground at a site north of Fort Hancock in Hudspeth County. That location was moved to a site southeast of Sierra Blanca in 1991 following a lawsuit filed by El Paso County, and last year a state committee and Gov. George W. Bush rejected the Sierra Blanca site due to underground fault lines in the area.

Despite the failure of legislation designed to clarity the state's current policy on low-level radioactive waste disposal in Texas earlier this year, Envirocare can move ahead with the proposed facility because it is classified as a long-term storage facility.

According to Jacobi, the proposed storage facility will be an above ground concrete vault housing concrete canisters. This new technique allows for easy accessibility for inspection and maintenance while preserving future options for removal or burial. Remotely operated visual inspection devices equipped with television camera monitor the interiors of the vault, insuring the safety of workers and the public.

Aside from checking for the absence of an aquifer, other tests were performed for vegetation, water samples and soil. "The Health Department will also perform tests and make sure everything is okay, according to Jacobi.

If the facility is approved it will be the year 2002, before it is in operation.

"This is a very controversial business," said Jacobi.

The storage facility will be the first of its kind in Texas and one of the first in the country. This storage method, sometimes referred to as assured isolation, is the newest means of storing low-level radioactive waste in over 25 years and is preferred by regulatory and environmental groups.

Man who shot at agent linked to earlier death

Staff Writer
Dec. 2, 1999 - The investigation of a man who shot at a U.S. Border Patrol Agent south of Valentine last week has determined that he is wanted on a charge of murder, which occurred in Nevada on Nov. 12, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The suspect, whose true identity is Shaun Michael Kane, had initially identified himself to authorities as Brian Lee Taylor. Kane is being held in the Presidio County Jail.

Marfa Police Chief Oscar Carrillo first encountered the man on Saturday, Nov. 20, after a registration check on the 1996 Dodge Ram pick-up came back as a stolen vehicle from Lamb County. The suspect led Carrillo on a high-speed chase that ended when the man crashed through a fence south of Marfa on Highway 67. A search by Border Patrol Agents, Presidio County Sheriff's Deputies, Department of Public Safety troopers and Marfa Police Offices was called off after nearly three hours when the man could not be located.

Border Patrol Agents then encountered the suspect in the early morning hours of Monday, Nov. 22, near the Aerostat balloon site south of U.S. 90 between Marfa and Valentine.

A Border Patrol agent approached the suspect when he fled on foot. The agent pursued the suspect for about a mile and a half through an open pasture. The suspect then stopped, pulled out a handgun and began firing at the agent, who agent returned fire before the suspect again fled. Neither was injured in the exchange.

Law enforcement officials from various agencies contained the suspect until Border Patrol air and ground tracking operations could commence when daylight broke. The tracking operation was supported by other law enforcement agencies and was under the personal direction of Chief Patrol Agent Simon Garza, Jr.

"Nothing will provoke a quicker response from me than an assault on one of my agents," said Garza.

The suspect was eventually found near a ranch house and was apprehended, then taken to the Presidio County Jail in Marfa.

The case was turned over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation pending additional charges. During the initial processing of the suspect, it was learned that the suspect had a lengthy criminal background, including multiple arrests for burglary, possession of a controlled substance, shoplifting, grand theft auto, possession of burglary tools, trespassing, possession of stolen property and resisting a public officer. The suspect also has an outstanding warrant for a murder in Nevada that occurred on Nov. 12.

An initial appearance was held in Federal Court in Alpine on Monday. The subject was charged with assault and attempting to kill a Federal Officer engaged in official duties. More charges are being considered by the U.S. Attorney's office for presentation to the next grand jury.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Parras will handle the prosecution out of U.S. District Court in Pecos.

Fire destroys upstairs of Elm St. home

Staff Writer
PECOS, Dec. 2, 1999 - A fire caused part of the upstairs area of a house on South Elm Street to collapse, but no one was injured in the early morning blaze.

The fire broke out about 5:15 a.m. in the center area and on the second floor of the house at 801 S. Elm St., according to fire chief Roy Pena. "It did damage to the center area and the upstairs," Pena said. "The guy also has an additional roof and we couldn't get to it (the fire), so we had to go in from another side.

The upper floor was accessible from the outside only through two small windows and a vent area. Firemen used a Texas-New Mexico Power Co. bucket truck to get up to one window, and used the roof of the house's carport to spray water in from the other side.

Pena said by the time they arrived at the house, going after fire from inside was impossible.

"The fire burned through the center of the house and in the upstairs area where there was a bathroom. The commode fell through and the tub was coming down, so that was a real danger to them from the second floor," he said. "The stairway that was there had holes burned all around it when the commode fell."

A father and son inside the house when the fire began were able to get out unharmed, Pena said.

Along with the fire damage, smoke poured out of other parts of the second floor of the house for about 40 minutes after firemen arrived. The fire was brought under control about 6:20 a.m., and fire trucks were at the site for about 90 minutes overall.

Town of Pecos City Fire Marshal Jack Brookshire will investigate the cause of the fire. He was unavailable for comment late this morning.

The fire was the second emergency call to the same area of central Pecos in a five-hour period. Firemen and ambulance attendants were called out to stand-by in the 800 block of South Cedar Street just after midnight following a report of a possible gas leak on the block.

`Christmas' group seeking toys, cash to help 248 kids

Staff Writer
PECOS, Dec. 2, 1999 - Organizers of a group aimed at providing a warm and happy Christmas for children in Pecos have already been working hard to make their dream a reality.

Christmas for the Kids, an organization aimed at bringing warmth and happiness to as many children as possible, has already had several fundraisers to go towards their efforts.

"Our barbecue fundraiser was a total success," said Sofia Baeza, one of the organizers for the group, which raised about $1,000 on Nov. 13, with the fundraiser. A door-to-door drive held on Nov. 20, also proved successful, with about $1,600 in funds raised.

"We want to thank everyone in the community who helped us during the barbecue, the door-to-door drive and who donated so generously," said Baeza.

Baeza said that the group's goal is to raise about $5,000 to provide Christmas gifts for the children on their list.

In 1998, the group helped 162 families and a total of 416 children. "Right now we have about 248 children on the list, but expect more, applications are coming in rapidly," said Baeza.

Those who would like to be recipients of Christmas for Kids presents can pick up applications at the Reeves County Sheriff's Office. The deadline to pick up an application is Friday afternoon.

"We already processed about 107 of the applications and have plans for those children," said Baeza.

Contributions are still being accepted and welcomed. "We always need all the help we can get, because we get some in at the last minute, that absolutely need a warm Christmas," said Baeza. "We don't want to disappoint anyone."

She added that all the businesses and the community have been very helpful. "We appreciate all the help we receive from everyone," she said.

The gifts will be delivered to the children on Dec. 17.

Christmas for the Kids provides the essentials that children need and should have in our community, according to Baeza.

The group not only provides toys for the needy, but essential items such as shoes, clothing, jackets and more.

"We're also accepting good used coats, jackets, sweaters or shirts," said Baeza. "Our main goal is to make sure all the children are warm this winter."

For more information on the program call 445-4901.

Enterprise seeking letters to Santa

PECOS, Dec. 2, 1999 - The deadline to submit Christmas letters to Santa to be published in the Pecos Enterprise is Monday, Dec. 13. The letters will be printed in a special section of the paper on Wednesday, Dec. 22.

Letters should either be brought into the Enterprise office, at 324 S. Cedar St., or mailed to P.O. Box 2057, Pecos, Tx.., 79772. Office hours are 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.


AUSTIN (AP) - Results of the Lotto Texas drawing Wednesday night: Winning numbers drawn: 15-19-25-26-30-43. Estimated jackpot: $13 million. Number matching six of six: 0 Matching five of six: 108. Prize: $1,356. Matching four of six: 4,656. Prize: $113.


AUSTIN (AP) - The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Wednesday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 0-7-0 (zero, seven, zero)


Juanita Waggoner

Juanita Waggoner, 80, of Eunice, N.M., died Tuesday, Nov. 30, 1999, in Eunice.

Services will be held at 10 a.m., Friday, Dec. 3, at First Baptist Church in Eunice with Pator Keeney Dickenson of First Baptist Church of Eunice officiating. Burial will be in Brunson Memorial Cemetery.

She was born May 16, 1919, in Stone County Ark., was homemaker, a member of Fist Baptist Church in Eunice, had taught Sunday School for many years and devoted her life to her family and friends.

She was preceded in death by her husband Ted Waggoner on Aug. 7, 1981; and three brothers and five sisters.

Survivors include two sons, Ernest Waggoner of Fort Stockton, Freddie Waggoner of Eunice, N.M.; two daughters, Wanda Ross of Locust Grove, Okla., Beth Bray of Seguin; two sisters, Mary Jane Cole of Hobbs, N.M., Edna Combs of Chouteau, Okla.; eight grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers memorial contributions be made to Vista Care Family Hospice.


High Wednesday 81. Low this morning 42. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Low near 40. Windy during the early evening, with west winds 20-30 mph, diminishing to 10-20 mph late. Friday: Partly cloudy and breezy. High around 70. West to Southwest wind 15-25 mph. Friday night: Partly cloudy. Low in the mid 30s.

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Pecos Enterprise
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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