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Federal Judge Blocks Nuclear Waste Merger

Radioactive waste byproducts storage at Waste Control Specialists in Andrews County, TX (WCS)

A federal judge on Wednesday ruled to block the merger between Dallas’ Waste Control Specialists and EnergySolutions.

Judge Sue L. Robinson’s decision follows a 10-day trial in which EnergySolutions -- a waste disposal company based in Utah -- sought to acquire the struggling Waste Control Specialists in a $367 million deal.

Last year the Justice Department suedto enjoin the merger, claimingthe move violated antitrust law. According to the DOJ, the acquisition would have combined the only two low-level radioactive waste disposal companies for 36 states.

“Substantial evidence showed that head-to-head competition between EnergySolutions and Waste Control Specialists led to better disposal services at lower prices,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Andrew Finch of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division said in a press release.  “Today’s decision protects competition in an industry that is incredibly difficult to enter."

In a press release, the company's CEO Rob Baltzer said the merger would have protected "desperately needed American jobs" and ensure the disposal of low-level radioactive waste at its facility in West Texas.

Baltzer says the company is considering an appeal.

"WCS presented overwhelming evidence in favor of allowing the transaction to proceed to closing," the company's lawyer Van Beckwith said in a statement. "We are very disappointed with the decision."

The company operates a low-level radioactive waste facility in Andrews County, where they were also looking to store the country's spent nuclear waste. But in April, Waste Control specialists asked regulators to temporarily suspend its application to store the additional nuclear waste, citing financial burdens. At the time, Baltzer said the Dallas company had significant operating losses and coming up with the roughly $7.5 million to follow through with the licensing process would be “unsupportable.”

When Waste Control Specialists first proposed storing the country's spent nuclear waste at its Andrews site, it broughtmixed reactions from Andrews residents.




Carlos Morales is Marfa Public Radio's News Director.