Wasting is cheap in Texas—between lax regulation and all our wide open spaces we have more landfills than almost any other state. The good news is that thanks to pressure from the public and from ACT allies we also have great recycling programs in many local communityes, and statewide for products like computers and TVs. Still, we have a long ways to go, and as Texas’ population grows so too do wastes that folks expect to throw “away.” There is no away, however, and as Texans committed to a cleaner, healthier future we need a solution that is truly sustainable.
One big problem with Texas landfills is that more than 40% of them have been recorded as leaking pollutants into groundwater supplies. That’s why it is crucial to keep harmful materials out of landfills. Household batteries contain toxins and they can corrode the protective linings of Texas landfills. Texas Campaign for the Environment and allies will be promoting a bill this session with Republican lawmaker Rodney Anderson that will set up a statewide, market-based, manufacturer-run recycling program for household batteries.
Most Texans have no idea what happens to the sludge recovered from their sewage—it goes “away.” In many cases, however, it is being used as a fertilizer on agricultural land in rural Texas. This sludge can make people sick and get into waterways where it can wreak havoc on the environment. We need new protections to make sure that sludge land application is limited to the safest spots and kept OUT of Texas waterways.
In the last weeks before the session there has been talk from some Republican lawmakers that we ought to do something about companies that apply for pollution permits simply turning around and filing another application. A company filed a bad application for a landfill in Waller County and local residents defeated it, the state environmental agency rejected it—something they almost never do. The company immediately filed another application and area lawmakers are unhappy about it. We need a “no means no” provision for pollution permits in Texas!
Texas is under the threat of becoming the nation’s dumping ground for deadly high-level radioactive waste, that includes uranium and plutonium. WCS has apply to store irradiated nuclear reactor fuel for 40 years or longer above-ground at its Andrews County low-level radioactive waste site. Waste shipments would travel through major cities for more than 20 years posing accident and terrorism risks that could result in contamination of land and water. It is far less risky to leave it guarded at the site of generation or nearby until a permanent repository and scientifically valid isolation system is in place.