Tuesday, February 9, 1999 
                                     2:00 pm 
                                 Senate Chamber 
         Pursuant to a notice posted in accordance with Senate Rule  
         11.11, a public hearing of the Senate Committee on Natural  
         Resources was held on Tuesday, February 9, 1999 in the Senate  
         Chamber at Austin, Texas.   
         MEMBERS PRESENT:                        MEMBERS ABSENT: 
         Senator J.E. "Buster" Brown, Chair      Senator Bill Ratliff 
         Senator Kenneth Armbrister 
         Senator Gonzalo Barrientos 
         Senator Teel Bivins 
         Senator Tom Haywood 
         Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. 
         The Chair called the meeting to order at 2:10 pm.  There being  
         a quorum present, the following business was transacted.  
         Senator Lucio moved that the Minutes from the previous hearing  
         be adopted.  There being no objection, it was so ordered. 
         The Chair noted that Lieutenant Governor Perry requested the  
         Committee to provide a recommendation  to the Senate Finance  
         Committee as to whether the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste  
         Disposal Authority should continue and, if so, what their role  
         should be.   
         The Chair duly noted that only invited testimony on the issue  
         would be received by the Committee.  The Chair reminded the  
         witnesses that comments were to be focused on issues of: need  
         for low-level radioactive waste disposal capacity in Texas;  
         the need for continuation of the Authority; and what the  
         Authority's role should be. 
         Witnesses testifying on the issue are shown on the attached  
         list and a brief summary of their testimony is as follows: 
         Leigh Ing, TNRCC: 
         TNRCC licenses disposal, while the Texas Department of Health  
         licenses storage.  Currently, 
         60,000 cubic feet of low-level radioactive waste is being  
         stored statewide.  The only low-level site (Chem-Nuclear) that  
         will accept waste from Texas is located in Barnwell, South  
         Carolina.  The disposal fees from this company are helping to  
         fund South Carolina school systems.   
         Small quantities of low-level radioactive waste and NORM waste  
         can be sent to the Envirocare site in Utah.  One concern is  
         that the Barnwel, S.C., site has closed down before, and it  
         could happen again.   
         Senator Armbrister questioned Ms. Ing about the issue of  
         illegal dumping. 
         Richard Ratliff, Texas Department of Health, Bureau of  
         Radiation Control: 
         The Bureau regulates low-level radioactive materials  
         processors.  Radioactive sources that are stored in sealed  
         drums for future disposal could pose serious health  
         consequences if they are improperly handled. 
         "Having a low-level radioactive waste site for Texas'  
         radioactive waste is needed to assure the health and safety of  
         the general public and the environment," said Ratliff. 
         James Carroll, Doug Bell, Lee Matthews, & Susan Jablonski;  
         Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Authority: 
         Denial of the Sierra Blanca license was detrimental to the  
         health and safety of all Texans.   
         James Carroll questioned, "Should we have one site that can be  
         managed and overseen, or over 900 sites that have it stored?" 
         There are three approaches to disposal:  above-ground,  
         below-ground, and assured isolation. 
         Texas is ultimately responsible for the waste it generates.   
         The Authority thinks a public/private partnership is the right  
         answer.  The Authority would obtain and retain the license,  
         and operations could be privatized.  Authority's role would  
         include:  evaluation and design of  the site. Then, contract  
         with private entity for the building and operating, while the  
         Authority has oversight responsibilities. 
         DOE waste is a mixed component, both hazardous and  
         radioactive, and have a longer- lived radio nuclides than the  
         Compact waste.  Time period for siting and licensing for  
         disposal is 6.5 years.  For assured isolation, the time period  
         is four years.   
         Compact language says "management and disposal."  "Manage"  
         includes broader spectrum and could include long-term storage  
         such as assured isolation.   
         Senator Bivins stated his concern regarding Texas' liability  
         if the state fails to perform under the Compact. 
         $53 million dollars has been spent to date for the siting and  
         licensing functions, with no permit to show for it.   
         Generators have paid a fee that has covered the costs to date.   
         Balance in the fund at the end of fiscal year  98 was $9  
         million.  Interest stays in the fund, but not all the money in  
         the fund is appropriated to the Authority.   
         Ken Kramer, Sierra Club: 
         Legislature should avoid a major revamping of the LLRWDA this  
         session, instead use the sunset review and interim study  
         processes for making major recommendations for any changes to  
         the Authority and its scope of work. 
         There is no emergency need for disposal capacity, so no rush  
         decisions should be made.  Waste minimization techniques could  
         be enhanced .  This should be studied in greater detail.   
         State policies need to be implemented to encourage the growing  
         use of processing and compaction techniques to reduce the  
         volume of low-level radioactive waste generated. 
         Serious consideration should be given to assured isolation  
         storage at the state's two nuclear power plants.  Kramer  
         called for the need to continue the Authority, but in a  
         revised form:  greater degree of public scrutiny (open  
         records) and a higher level of assurance that Texas won't  
         become dumping ground for DOE waste.  The state is ultimately  
         responsible for long-term monitoring and care. 
         Need to change the make-up of the Authority's governing board  
         - only public members instead of the restrictive categories  
         for members and they need to be representative of the  
         population of the state - culturally and geographically.   
         Authority should hold the license, which will provide a higher  
         level of assurance that a facility in Texas will not become  
         the ultimate dumping ground for much higher volume DOE wastes.   
         William Cottle, South Texas Project:  
         Low-level radioactive waste is generated every day in the  
         state.  This is a Texas problem. 
         Storage is not a substitute for disposal.  Most temporary  
         storage sites are not regulated or inspected.   
         Cottle stated that he believes the Compact is specifically  
         referring to disposal as opposed to storage.  Modification of  
         Texas' current process is to privatize the responsibility of  
         obtaining a license and/or maintaining operations.  Private  
         companies are motivated to protect their investments. 
         In-state disposal is less expensive than temporary storage or  
         out of state disposal. 
         Assurity bonds or other financial assurance could be provided  
         to state to cover the issue of longevity of a company. 
         Maurice "Bud" Norton of MD Anderson Cancer Center gave only  
         technical information to the Committee. 
         Bill Clayton, Envirocare: 
         Supports assured isolation.  State should hold license and  
         contract operation and maintenance.  With an open-bid process,  
         the state should be able to re-bid if the operator is not  
         performing well.   
         Limit Texas site to Compact waste.  Eliminate the "box"  
         currently in statute.  Shift the site characterization costs  
         to the private sector. 
         Mark Turnbough, Waste Control Specialists: 
         Currently receive and dispose some exempt-level radioactive  
         wastes. Currently accepting DOE waste. Private sector can  
         offer valuable services to Texas - they can move more quickly  
         and the costs will be less.  The Compact refers to disposal,  
         not assured isolation.   
         WCS has no position on the continuing role of the Authority.   
         Compact doesn't mention the Authority, just the host state's  
         There being no further business, at 4:30 pm Senator Armbrister  
         moved that the Committee stand recessed subject to the call of  
         the Chair. 
         Senator J.E. "Buster" Brown, Chair                     Carol  
                                                                , Clerk