County fights injection well, concrete plant
Montgomery County Commissioners Court approved the hiring of two experts Monday in its continuing fight against injection wells proposed in the county.
TexCom Gulf Disposal is petitioning the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for four injection wells and above ground storage tanks off of Creighton Road. The site would handle up to 184 million gallons of non-hazardous industrial waste, which would be pumped 5,000 to 6,000 below the surface.
A coalition of Montgomery County governments and residents are opposing the site because it is located on the old Conroe oil fields and could threaten the county's underground water supply. In addition, residents are concerned about the noise, odor and trucks that would be generated by the site.
Montgomery County Attorney David Walker said the county will hire Paul Pearce of Nova Biological and an environmental engineer to provide information on the impact of the injection wells on the county's water supply and alternative disposal methods during a public hearing before a two judge administrative law panel in April.
Pearce helped the county develop its initial case against the wells during its first round of public hearing before the judges. The two judge panel recommended to TCEQ that the permit be granted with two conditions: that further testing be done on the wells and that the driveway to the facility be relocated.
The three members of the TCEQ remanded the case back to the administrative law judges for additional information on the permits' impact on public interest under the Texas Water Code and whether there are alternative disposal methods that can be used, Walker said. This is in addition to hydrology and geology studies of the area.
TexCom Gulf Disposal did retest the site and found that the waste plume could spread up to 3,000 feet from the injection site, rather than the 750 feet initially estimated. The area the waste would be injected lies beneath the three aquifers serving the county, the only source of water for residents and businesses here.
The Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District also recently vowed to stay in the case as long as the groundwater continues to be threatened.
In another matter, East County residents appealed to Commissioners Court to fight a proposed concrete plant in their residential neighborhood. While it is too late for the county to officially intervene in permit application process, the county and state Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, vowed to voice their opposition to the plan.
A $1 million Redi-Mix plant has been proposed on 46 acres off of Midline Drive. The proposed plant is located within an East County subdivision and would create air pollution, truck traffic and noise, said resident Jesse Coody. Petitions have been signed by 200 residents against the concrete plant, Coody said.
My biggest concern is my children," said Coody. What was said in the MSDS (Material Data Safety Sheet) was of great concern to me."
Coody said one of the components of concrete is crystalline silica, which is known to cause lung cancer. His driveway is within 200 feet of the plant.
Walker said the county missed the deadline to intervene in the TCEQ permit hearing, but that the county still could send a letter objecting to the case. The TCEQ has limited the hearing to issues involving air pollution only.
Williams, who attended Commissioners Court, said he also would send a letter of protest to the TCEQ.
We want industry to come to the county, but we would rather that it be somewhere else rather than a residential neighborhood," said Commissioner Ed Rinehart of Precinct 4. When they took noise and traffic on the road out of it, they took a lot of the fight away from us. It's like going to a gun fight with a switch."
Finally, the county will look into a strategy to use its subdivision rules to prohibit truck traffic on the county-owned road serving the plant. In the past, the county has been able to force residential developers to upgrade roads before building.
Because this is a substandard road that is unable to handle 80,000 pound trucks, the county may use able to use its rule-making power to stop truck traffic or force the company to spend money to upgrade the road.
It is unable to handle the load of what this plant would put on it," said County Engineer Mark Mooney.
Proposed Injections Wells for Conroe
TexCom Gulf Disposal, located at 16185 Creighton Road in Conroe, is seeking permits from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for four injection wells as well as above ground storage and processing tanks for chemical waste. The site would handle up for 184 million gallons of waste, which would be pumped 5,000 to 6,000 below the site. Among the materials that would be disposed of at the site are:
Acid aqueous waste
Caustic aqueous waste
Oil water emulsion or mixture
Paint thinner or petroleum distillates
Ethylene glycol based antifreeze
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
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