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Community voices concern about Concrete Plant at TCEQ Hearing

State Representative Armando Walle gave welcoming remarks, and set the tone for a constructive, informative meeting. At left are two representatives of the Rocket Materials LLC company wanting to build the concrete batch plant; at right are two reviewers from the TCEQ, and the TCEQ facilitator Diana Avalos stands beside Walle.

East Aldine residents turned out in large numbers last Monday night, to voice their concerns over a concrete batch plant that is proposed for a site at 914 Pinafore Lane, near East Hardy frontage road.

The meeting was an official hearing by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and run by their facilitator, Diana Avalos. The meeting was held at BakerRipley, and lasted over an hour.

Opening comments were made by the facilitator, and State Representative Armando Walle. Walle said that although he wasn’t against small businesses, that a concrete plant emits particulate materials into the air, and has heavy truck traffic on the surrounding roads.

The comments started out with questions and answers, but as the meeting continued the residents became more expressive of their concerns and displeasure that the company wanted to locate in Aldine.

Steve Adame spoke about the dangers of heavy, slow moving trucks exiting onto East Hardy, and concrete spills on the roads and overpasses in the area, which no one seems responsible for.

In a surprising revelation that was an answer to Adame’s comment, the permit reviewer for TCEQ, Don Nelon, stated that he was only allowed to review the application for air quality, and not for traffic problems or water pollution.

Kenneth Sugg asked if the reviewers took into account emissions from cement trucks and supply trucks with sand and gravel, and Nelon said, “No,” they were not allowed to. He also said they are not allowed to make judgement on the location and its appropriateness in the community.

Marina Sugg asked if the permit was already approved, and Nelon said no, the first review was only a preliminary approval, and said that as presented the applicant would not give off any air pollution.

The representative from Rocket Materials, Lee Hergenrather, said that they would only be using newer trucks that would not spill on the roads. He admitted he had no control over trucks from other companies that might be entering his plant.

He also revealed that the plant would be a 24 hour, 365 day operation. The TCEQ has no control over noise emitted from the plant, they said.

TCEQ said there was a phone hotline for complaint about the plant or concrete spills: 1-888-777- 3186.

As the meeting continued, speakers became more outspoken in their complaints about TCEQ and the plant.

Steve Adame said, “TCEQ has sold out the Aldine area.”

Connie Esparza asked why there are so many concrete plants in the Aldine area (5). She said, “My experience with TCEQ is very poor. I’m very disappointed that you chose Aldine.” Later she explained that East Aldine, and Aldine ISD are trying to bring up the quality of life in the area, and these types of plants work against that effort.

Others that spoke agains the plant were David Lindene, who asked how to get the rules changed on reviews, and Dorothy Weathers who complained about the condition of roads due to heavy trucks and concrete spills.

Amando Walle spoke in the comment period too, noting that other concrete batch plants in the Aldine area don’t follow the rules, making environmental problems, and questioned whether this plant could perform within state rules. He pointed out that these plants are more than just a nuisance, they emit noise that is unbearable to its neighbors. He said he doesn’t understand why there are so many concrete plants in the Aldine area. He said, “I oppose this application. We don’t need any more.”

Steve Adame’s remarks summarized the other comments in the meeting: “We don’t hate your company. We just don’t want you here.”

And to TCEQ, he said “You are selling us out.”

Facilitator Diana Avalos said that if anyone needed more information about the application, they could call 1-800-667-4040 and refer to Proposed Registration No. 157195, Air Quality Standard Permit.