Residents protest Pollution from Concrete Plant on Hartwick

Resident took this photo of dust clouding the street.
Resident took this photo of dust clouding the street.

ALDINE – Residents on Hartwick Street, who live near a busy Concrete Batch plant, are complaining that the neighborhood is filled with pollution, causing health problems for the families. The plant also works all hours of the day and night, neighbors said, causing unbearable noise.

Erick Garcia, who lives across the street from the plant, said the previous owner had only a few trucks, and kept the area clean. But in 2014 Integrity Ready Mix, owned by Manuel Malupa, took over the plant. Since then TCEQ have issued four violations about the plant’s operations, including “failure to prevent visible emissions from the dust collection system.”

State Representative Walle explains the limit of regulation, but agrees neighbors should be upset.

State Representative Armando Walle was at the site recently, listening to the complaints of the residents. He said that part of the problem is lack of regulatory authority. Walle said “I want to change state law to five local counties authority to regulate these facilities.”

However, Harris County Pollution Control told media representatives that they had inspected the plant 39 times, resulting in air violations over the last several years. In addition, they said, “We are well aware of Integrity Ready Mix’s long history of violations.

In response, the owner of the plant, Manuel Malupa, said that he is abiding by TCEQ standards and state law. “We’ve always responded to what pollution control and the state has asked of us.”

As for the dust in the air, Malupa said it is not from his concrete plant, but from a vacant lot next door which was recently vacated, leaving dust and dirt un-contained.

Malupa claims he is willing to work out a solution with the neighbors, even though they live in a mixed commercial residential neighborhood. However, HCPC says that the company has several locations, and “has the most violations for a facility of this type in both air and water.”

Neighbors say the plant operates well into the night, running about 20 trucks daily, and generates noise and dirt as late as 2 am.

The constant dust in the air worries nearby residents, according to Raymond Vera, who is concerned about long-term effects on their health.

Harris County Pollution Control said that due to the complaints, they will schedule another inspection.

Residents want to shut the plant down, and remove it from their neighborhood. They plan on organizing a meeting among homeowners, and reach out to the County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia for help in dealing with the problem.