Archive for Thursday, July 8, 2004

Nebraska governor approaches Texas in effort to settle nuclear waste dispute

July 8, 2004

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— Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns has approached Texas officials about storing nuclear waste there to help Nebraska settle a lawsuit in which it has been ordered to pay $151 million.

Kathy Walt, a spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry, said Wednesday that Johanns broached the subject with Perry, but that it would be going too far to say the two sides were negotiating.

"The governor of Nebraska contacted Governor Perry and asked if Texas would consider" taking the waste," Walt told The Associated Press.

Nebraska reportedly has offered to pay Texas $50 million to take a five-state group's low-level radioactive waste, according to a Nebraska Public Radio Network story Wednesday. The radio station did not name its sources.

Johanns would not comment, other than to say he hopes the case can be settled.

Walt said Perry's office asked Nebraska officials to forward a proposal but that Perry's office had yet to receive it.

Nebraska has been trying to negotiate a settlement in the case in which a federal judge ordered it to pay $151 million for blocking construction of the dump within its borders.

The dump was to take waste from the Central Interstate Low-Level Radioactive Waste Compact, which consists of Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said it had three documents related to the issue of storing waste from the Central Interstate group but would not release them.

Nebraska, which doesn't have the money to pay the judgment because of an ongoing budget crunch, has until July 21 to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the ruling.

U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf, of Lincoln, ruled in 2002 that former Nebraska Gov. Ben Nelson, now a U.S. senator, engaged in a politically motivated and orchestrated plot to keep the regional dump from being built in Nebraska.

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