U.S.: No permit for nuclear waste site in Sierra Blanca

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(November 2, 1998) For two decades now, Texans have lived with the question of where the state should bury its nuclear waste: at Sierra Blanca or outside Texas at one of the two operating dumps in Richland and Barnwell. The Texas state legislature has ordered that the dump be built on a state-owned ranch five miles east of Sierra Blanca. A crucial decision has thus been made.

(501.4937) WISE Amsterdam - On October 22, 1998, a state commission refused to issue a permit for the proposed dump for low-level nuclear waste in rural Sierre Blanca in Texas, 35 km from the Mexican border. The Texas Natural Conservation Commission voted 3-0 against it.
The dump was intended to hold the low-level waste from the Texas, Maine and Vermont states. The site is situated in the most seismically active region of the state and above a key groundwater source. Dumping of nuclear waste there clearly is a hazard. The Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Authority can request a rehearing from the commission within 20 days. If that fails, it can appeal to a state distict court.
The day before the court decision, the Mexican government had protested about the dump by sending a letter to the US Department of Energy (DOE). Until then, Mexico had said that sufficient precautions were being taken to make the dump safe. But it reversed its opinion. In September, the Mexican Congress had voted unanimously to oppose construction of the dump. Political leaders from every party united in protest marches, petitions and visits to Texas Gov. George Bush Jr., son of former US President George Bush, in Austin. Residents and environmentalists of Sierra Bianca, a mostly poor community, also protested the dump.
On September 17, Greenpeace activists occupied the Texas government office in Mexico City, located in front of the US embassy, for 30 hours to protest the dump. In banners, the younger Bush was called an "environmental racist" because his policy aims to make the Mexican-US border a nuclear and toxics waste dump.


  • Greenpeace press release, 17 September 1998
  • Washington Post, 19 September 1998
  • BBC online, 21 October 1998
  • New York Times, 22 October 1998

Contact: Sierra Blanca Legal Defense Fund
517 Navasota
Austin TX 78702, USA.
Tel: +1-512-472-0855.
WWW: www.compasionate.org/sbldf