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Sierra Club Worried about Precedent from Nuclear Waste Site Ruling

(Kerry via Flickr)

A state appeals court has again upheld a radioactive waste license for a storage site in Andrews County.

The site is owned and operated by Waste Control Specialists, and it's been at the middle of a series of legal challenges from the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club.

We recently spoke with the Sierra Club's Conservation Director Cyrus Reed, who says the group's worried about the precedent the ruling could set for other citizens or groups hoping to oppose similar licenses.

The environmental group has been trying to get the state to reverse its permit for WCS for years, mainly because the group was upset that state regulators never gave it a chance for what's called a "contested case hearing" - basically a courtroom-style public hearing where citizens and groups can challenge license proposals.

Since the group's initial lawsuit in 2007, the courts have said the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality did have the right to deny the group a contested hearing.

A state appeals court shot down one of the Sierra Club's challenges to the waste site earlier this month, and now that court has again ruled in favor of the TCEQ.

This latest ruling upholds the the Andrews County company's license to store low-level radioactive waste, the type that's been arriving in West Texas by the truckload from a shuttered storage site in New Mexico since early April.

Travis Bubenik is All Things Considered Host and Big Bend Reporter at Marfa Public Radio.