The first and only radioactive storage facility in Texas received its first shipment Tuesday, June 7th. Over the next eight months, 2,100 truckloads will be transported from Ohio, where the uranium based product was created in the 50's for the nation's defense program. The journey to Andrews passes through Lubbock. Since the 80's, the Department of Energy has been trying to find a safe storage sight, the Andrews project helps solve the problem.
On a sunny West Texas day, heat radiates off the freshly laid blacktop at Waste Control Specialists (WCS) in Andrews County. However, it won't remain empty. The first of 2,100 shipments containing low level radioactive waste went through Lubbock Tuesday. The blacktop will be home to the cold war era material. A project which Andrews citizens have supported.
One Andrews man said, "You have to understand that the dynamics of this community and the whole area for economic development. It's time for something to come in here."
WCS Community Relations Director, Len Wilson said, "This (waste) industry does that and we look forward to having a good relationship between WCS and the community for many years to come."
WCS is the end of a 1,300 mile journey from Ohio to Andrews. On the highway, drivers are trained to handle emergency situations, but what about safety concerns in Andrews.
NewsChannel 11 asked one community member, "Does that concern you as far as radioactivity being near your community?" The man replied, "No, not really. I think the employees will take care of it."
The material will be stored above ground on a blacktop area, which is two football fields in width and length. In case any spills occur, it's built at an slant, that way if a spill were to happen, it would fall into a cement reservoir, one reason it's said to be safe. Wilson says, "This is good science in a good spot and it's properly regulated and properly inspected by third parties."
The material has to be isolated, which is another reason why WCS is safe. It's very isolated, 30 miles west of the city of Andrews.
The storage facility solves a decades old issue; where to safely store the material, which could not have happened without the community's support.
The material has been mixed with concrete and sealed in steel drums to prevent any danger. Also, the Andrews facility is only temporary. The material will be stored there for up to two years.
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