Harold Simmons, chairman of Valhi, a diversified holding company, bought a controlling interest in Waste Control Specialists for $25 million in 1995, and he has been lobbying since then for the right to dispose of low-level waste at his west Texas disposal site.

It now appears possible that his investment will pay off, largely because of the consequences of the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001. West Texas lawmakers are supporting a bill to authorise a radioactive waste disposal facility after two decades of disputation. The bill’s supporters claim that the radioactive waste stored at two nuclear power plants and at 61 temporary storage sites in Texas are vulnerable to terrorists.

The bill is out of committee and awaiting floor debate.