Austin - A top campaign contributor to Texas Governor George W. Bush is now disposing of radioactive waste at a 16,000 acre dump in west Texas without a permit but with the acquiescence of state regulators, according to documents released today by Texas Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (Texas PEER). The dump operator, Waste Control Specialists (WCS), had been denied a more limited license to store and process radioactive waste; but after a Bush campaign contributor acquired half of WCS its license application was sped through the process.
Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons, part owner of WCS, has given more than $800,000 to Bush campaigns, making him one of Bush's top donors. His donation history, however, is plagued with illegal incidents, including forging his two daughters' signatures to make political contributions from family trusts. His history with environmental laws is not much better. He is the owner of a defunct lead smelter, now a federal Superfund site, that has been the target of numerous lawsuits claiming damages from dangerous lead emissions.
The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC), the state's environmental agency, rejected Waste Control Specialists's request for permission to dispose of nuclear waste but WCS has gone ahead anyway:
- massive pits above the country's largest aquifer are being filled with radioactive and hazardous waste;
- nuclear weapons related waste that was rejected from other sites has been accepted for disposal; and
- radioactive waste from out-of-state Superfund sites is being disposed of at the WCS site.
"If you give enough money in Texas, you don't have to be bothered with little things like licenses and health permits," commented Texas PEER Coordinator Erin Rogers.