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Proposal for Nuclear Waste Site in West Texas Hangs in Balance

At a public meeting this year, Andrews residents came out in support and opposition to the nuclear waste facility. (Diana Nguyen for Marfa Public Radio/West Texas Public Radio)

The future of a proposal to bring the some of the country’s used nuclear fuel to West Texas hangs in the balance now, after the company spearheading the effort has requested the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission temporarily suspend the review of their application.

In a letterto the federal commission this week, Dallas-based Waste Control Specialists cited significant financial burdens as the company’s reason for requesting the temporary suspension of its application

The company’s president Rod Baltzer  writes that Waste Control Specialists has had significant operating losses throughout the years, and coming up with the roughly $7.5 million to follow through with the licensing process would be “unsupportable.”

"At the same time," Batlzer writes, "WCS has faced significant operating losses in each of its operating years, and the cost of actively pursuing the project only serves to increase those losses."

The company currently operates a low-level radioactive waste facility in Andrews County, where they were also looking to build the used nuclear fuel site. The project brought mixed reactions from Andrews residents.

The request for suspension also comes at a time when EnergySolutions – a waste disposal company based in Utah – is seeking to buy the struggling Dallas company.  Last year, however, the U.S. Justice Department suedto block the acquisition, citing concerns that the purchase would create a monopoly on nuclear waste disposal.

The trial is expected to start later this month.