In just a few days, the people of Culberson County will go to the
polls to elect members of the County government. Elections such as
these are commonly considered small affairs with little significance.
But the upcoming election could turn out to be quite consequential.
Since last summer, a battle has been pitched regarding an Interim
Storage Site for High-Level Nuclear Waste. The site was to be located
about 9 miles North of Kent, Texas, at the Eastern edge of Culberson
County. It was to be licensed to store some of the most hazardous
waste in existence, namely, so-called “spent” reactor fuel rods.
These rods contain mostly Uranium and some Plutonium. The Plutonium
is created while the rods irradiate each other in the reactor. The
term “spent” has a highly specific meaning when applied to nuclear
fuel, which is very misleading to those who are unaware of this. Most
people will reckon that, when fuel is described as “spent”, it means
that it has lost its power. For nuclear fuel, that would mean that it
has lost its radiation. Nothing could be further from the truth. The
fuel is removed from the reactor, not because it has lost its power,
but because it has become so radioactive that it cannot be controlled
like new fuel rods, and has become a threat to the people who operate
This is what they want us to store in Culberson County.
Since June 2015, Judge Urias has articulated a single point of view:
he was interested in the money that AFCI, the organization vying to
set up the storage site, was promising to push his way. I understand
that a County Judge is charged with promoting the interests of a
County. But this includes not only the County’s financial well-being,
but its long-term safety as well.
Since the time that AFCI first approached the County, Judge Urias has
characterized those who opposed the Storage Site as “radicals”, and
“bullies”. He could have reached out to them to attempt to discover
what else they might know that would lead them to a different
conclusion. But he only ignored, dismissed and attacked them. He
expended no effort to reach out to opponents who had looked into the
The proposal of AFCI now seems dead. But that does not matter. The
County Commissioners’ Court treated the entire issue in a highly
partisan and autocratic way, and exhibited a willingness to expose us
all to danger simply to get ahold of the financial enticements which
AFCI dangled before them. And Urias has indicated that he would not
have another public meeting if another deal presented itself.
And all the while, Urias has claimed that the scheme would pass
“unanimously”, if actually put to vote. This means that the current
County Commissioners also support the Storage Site. Some of these
commissioners are now standing for election. At a minimum, residents
of Culberson County should ask these commissioners why the very real
risks of an Interim Storage Site for High-Level Nuclear Waste have not
been duly considered. Or maybe the voters should just throw them out.
Feb 6,7,8 2016
P.O. Box 284
Van Horn TX 79855