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Nuclear trains through San Antonio?

(The following story by Walker Robinson appeared on television station WOAI’s website on July 21.)

SAN ANTONIO -- San Antonio could someday become a site where nuclear waste passes through on trains and in trucks. A map posted by a Texas environmental group prior to September 11, 2001, shows the U.S. Department of Energy plans to ship nuclear waste to a dump site in Nevada. That route could go through San Antonio.

The plan was suggested before the 9/11 terror attacks and while he is aware of nuclear waste discussions, Congressman Charlie Gonzalez cannot say whether or not the plan is still in effect.

"Whether there is an intended routing of nuclear waste material through San Antonio would remain to be seen," Gonzalez told News 4 WOAI.

If the plan has not changed, the nuclear waste would follow the same route where chlorine gas leaked out after train derailment in southwest Bexar County in June. The same tracks also go through downtown San Antonio.

"Our communities live in danger of Union Pacific and their deadly tracks," Genaro Lopez-Rendon with the Southwest Workers Union said. "It's not only nuclear material but other hazardous waste."

An alternative route that would bypass San Antonio was in the hands of those who attended last week's rail meeting with County Judge Nelson Wolff.

In that plan, Union Pacific could use existing tracks to take trains to Navasota, Hearne, Temple, Sweetwater and into New Mexico. It would bypass San Antonio and other major cities by taking a more rural route.

"We recognize that their safety is also paramount that right now we're trying to minimize the greatest danger to the greatest number," Gonzalez said of the proposed plan.

Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is looking at this alternate route and she is someone who can make things happen. She chairs the Senate subcommittee that oversees the railroad industry.

Congressman Gonzalez says the Nevada mountain nuclear facility is not yet a done deal. He believes it will be a few years before that happens. By then, it could be determined whether San Antonio is still on the nuclear rail line.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

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