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The QueQue

The QueQue: Perry appointment push for nuke waste, River Walk to get Hippie Hollow treatment, Texas, meet Anonymous

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Perry appointment push for nuke waste

Rick Perry is preparing to appoint a new slate of nuclear waste governors for the two-state Texas-Vermont low-level radioactive waste commission. His selection will determine just how much richer one of his most generous donors, Dallas’ billionaire “evil genius” (as D Magazine slugged him) Harold Simmons, owner of growing West Texas radwaste dump operator, Waste Control Specialists, will become. Past decisions suggest: very rich, indeed.

Simmons had a hard road getting the dump applications approved in the first place — despite the million dollars he’s ponied up for Perry, somehow the influence didn’t trickle down to several TCEQ employees who resigned in protest over the approval of an operating license. They alleged the site was characteristically flawed and sat atop the southern edge of the Ogallala Aquifer, the nation’s largest freshwater aquifer. But since gaining approval, the company has gone to work on the commission to expand their possibilities beyond Texas and Vermont — and with decades passed with no new dumps for the nuclear industry’s stockpiling wastes, there’s lots of interest out there.

Before last year’s vote to begin project waste-stream expansion, Perry tried to use his power of appointments to get rid of a resisting member of the body, Reuters reported last week. Perry staffer Teresa Spears offered commissioner Bobby Gregory, one of two members who opposed expanding the compact to other states, a high-profile board-of-regents position (that would have, conveniently, required his immediate retirement from the somewhat less prestigious Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission), which he turned down. The measure passed anyway, and as the commission continues to works on to continue to expand WCS operations into a national dump sticking Texas with the liability and risk, two new Democrat-appointed members from Vermont (two of eight seats are held by our partner state) suggest Perry will now have to not only not reappoint Gregory but bring in even more strident dump supporters to get his way. “It’s abundantly clear that this is something that the nuclear industry wants and politicians who support the nuclear industry are going to give them,” said Diane D’Arrigo, radioactive waste project director for the D.C.-based Nuclear Information and Resource Service. “It’s providing a sacrifice area for the nuclear industry, and if Perry’s willing to do this to the people of Texas, then we can’t expect any kind of environmental protection from him at all.” Of course, Perry’s said as much himself, suggesting in South Carolina this week that if he is elected, regulators “won’t know what hit ‘em.” Unrestrained radioactive dumping in Texas is just one part of that knockout formula he’s been blending, apparently.

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