Daily Roundup
1:20 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

Rep. Burnam Wants Documents On Waste Site Made Public

Fort Worth State Representative Lon Burnam wants state officials to stop new nuclear waste shipments to a West Texas dump site. He says Waste Control Specialists, a Dallas company, wants to bring in truckloads as soon as next Monday.

Burnam says he has confidential documents that raise serious concerns about water contamination. Burnam says groundwater has seeped into a 100 foot buffer around the dump, and the company has been unable to pump it out after four months of trying.

Burnam: This is underground water migrating. Where’s the water coming from? We have a right to know this simple question, have it answered.

Burnam says it’s not a good idea to bury radioactive waste where it could connect with a water supply. He also wants the Attorney General to make the state environmental documents public.

Waste Control Specialists has certified to regulators that the site is geologically sound and safe for radioactive waste disposal.

WCS issued this response:

 

WCS Responds to Lon Burnam’s Political Stunt

Statement by William J. Lindquist, CEO, Waste Control Specialists, in response to Rep. Lon Burnam’s press conference of April 16, 2012:

Since the license application was originally submitted by WCS in 2004, this eight year journey that resulted in the licensing, construction and now opening of the Texas Low Level Radioactive Waste Compact Commission disposal facility in Andrews County has been an open, honest and transparent process.

Lon and his staff have visited the facility on numerous occasions and at no time has he expressed these concerns he has now chosen to air in the midst of a bitter primary election campaign. To willfully attempt to mislead and frighten the public for craven political purposes is shameful conduct by Mr. Burnam.

Let me be clear: Despite Lon’s assertions, WCS has no objection to the release of any documents, by any state agency, at any time, regarding the licensing and construction of this facility. Not only has the state's oversight of this project been thorough and complete, but it is ongoing. When TCEQ raised geological questions in 2007, hundreds of additional core samples were taken. Once the license was issued in 2009, and construction planning began, the state required additional core samples and wells drilled to insure that this facility would be safe and not have any adverse impact on any possible sources of drinking water.

From a geologic point of view, the WCS disposal site is one of the most geologically studied, characterized and analyzed spots on the planet. Lon is flat wrong to assert otherwise.

Finally, the proof is in the pudding: The site is open and the site is dry.   In fact the lack of water, as you would expect in west Texas, was one of the most serious challenges we had to overcome during construction when we had to build a five mile pipeline to get needed water to the site to make concrete.

Lon has opposed the disposal of our low level radioactive waste facility for more than a decade. That is his right. But he has no right to make inaccurate and misleading accusations simply because he needs a political boost. This is nothing more than a political stunt by a desperate candidate likely to lose an election.”

 -- BJ Austin, KERA News

Perry to lawmakers: No new taxes, or increases

More than eight months before the Texas Legislature reconvenes, Gov. Rick Perry is warning lawmakers he'll oppose any new taxes and boosts to levies already on the books.

The governor also says a good chunk of the state budget goes to Medicaid costs that only will rise if the U.S. Supreme Court doesn't throw out President Barack Obama's health care law.

Perry appeared Monday at a Houston moving company that he said was typical of businesses with annual revenues of less than $1 million. He says such companies would benefit from a business tax exemption that should be made permanent.

Texas is in the midst of a two-year budget lawmakers passed last year that included state spending cuts of almost $15 billion.

AP

Lawmakers to hear about debt, crime fund

Experts have told Texas lawmakers that the crime victim's fund is facing major financial problems due to a drop in revenues.

First Assistant Attorney General Daniel Hodge told lawmakers that court fees that fund the program have dropped 3 percent since 2008. The result is a short-term deficit in the current two-year budget and a longer term problem keeping the fund going.

The House Criminal Justice Committee must decide whether to keep funding the program, which provides direct financial aid to victims and also supports non-profit groups that provide services to victims. About 65 percent of the fund relies on court fees and fines, but could require more taxpayer money.

Texas lawmakers had to cut $15 billion in state spending in 2011 and expect to face another shortfall in 2013.

AP

Texas teen facing murder charges in van crash

A 15-year-old South Texas boy has been charged with nine counts of murder among other charges after a van he was driving crashed, killing nine of the suspected illegal immigrants packed inside.

The boy, who is not being identified because he is a juvenile, appeared at a probable cause hearing Monday.

He was also charged with 17 counts of smuggling a person and causing serious bodily harm including death and one count of evading.

Palmview Police Chief Chris Barrera said the boy, a U.S. citizen from Hidalgo County, said this morning he drove the van because his family had been threatened.

Barrera said prosecutors would decide whether to try the boy as an adult.

The nine killed in the rollover crash last Tuesday were all Mexican citizens.

AP

Texas boy dead, allegedly shot self with mom's gun

Investigators believe the 4-year-old son of an East Texas law officer had used her gun to fatally shoot himself.

Tyler police say Jaylen Johnson died Sunday afternoon in the apparent accidental shooting.

Smith County sheriff's Chief Deputy Bobby Garmon told KLTV-TV that the shooting happened in Officer Andrea Johnson's personal vehicle. She works at the Smith County jail but was not on duty at the time of the accident.

Authorities say the boy was dead on arrival at a Tyler hospital.

Further details on the investigation were not immediately available Monday.

AP

Dallas man, 30, dies in mud run, body in river

The body of a 30-year-old Dallas man who was participating in a so-called mud run has been recovered from the Trinity River.

Fort Worth police say they do not suspect foul play in the death of Tony Weathers. An autopsy has been scheduled for Monday.

The Original Mud Run DFW, with two obstacle courses through water and mud, took place Saturday in Fort Worth. Family and friends reported Weathers missing when he did not show up following the end of the competition.

Fire department officials say the man's body was recovered Sunday along the race route.

AP

Officials say man, 90, set fatal Fort Worth fire

Investigators believe a 90-year-old man intentionally set a North Texas house fire that killed him and his disabled 67-year-old nephew.

Fort Worth Fire Department officials say Robert "Bobby" Hubbard apparently succumbed to the smoke while trying to flee the Feb. 4 blaze. Police also say Hubbard suffered from dementia.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Sunday that clothing worn by Hubbard tested positive for gasoline. Matches were found on and near him when firefighters located his body.

Thomas Wheat also died.

Homicide Sgt. Cheryl Johnson says investigators found no indication that Hubbard and Wheat were having difficulties.

Authorities have found no connection between that fire and an arson blaze about an hour earlier at the nearby home of the men's caregiver.

AP