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TCEQ Complaints Against Texas Concrete Plum Grove Plant Still Unresolved

On July 14, 2020, the TCEQ completed another investigation into the Texas Concrete Plum Grove Plant. The investigator confirmed that it remains in violation of stabilization requirements before abandonment.

Small part of an estimated 15 acres still without vegetative cover. Photo taken 7/19/2020.

Moreover the company still has not removed rusting equipment.

Excavator and fork lift parked near entrance on 7/19/2020

13 Previous Investigations

TCEQ investigated the plant 13 previous times in the last five years.

The Texas Concrete Plum Grove Plant was already part of an active enforcement case (#57254) due to an unauthorized discharge and for failing to meet final stabilization requirements before terminating coverage under the Texas Discharge Pollutant Elimination System (TPDES).

“Due to the severity of the unauthorized discharge and the facility’s history of past noncompliance, this case will be referred to the Enforcement Division,” said the TCEQ in its report of a September 24, 2019, investigation.

Meaning of “Final Stabilization Requirements”

Final stabilization requirements include the planting of “vegetative cover” to retard erosion before abandoning the site. Texas Concrete ceased operations at the site and pulled down its signs. However, approximately 15 acres of the site remain unplanted; they have no vegetation.

According to the TCEQ report, the company claims it planted grass, but the grass failed to establish. A company spokesperson was not available for comment.

The definition of final stabilization is as follows: “All soil disturbing activities at the site have been completed and a uniform (e.g. evenly distributed, without large bare areas) perennial vegetative cover with a density of 70% of the native background vegetative cover for the area has been established on all unpaved areas and areas not covered by permanent structures, or equivalent permanent stabilization measures (such as the use of riprap, gabions, or geotextiles) have been employed.”

TCEQ did not respond to a request for an explanation of how it measured 70% of the native background vegetative cover. Background vegetation is this case is a dense pine forest, not grass.

Rusting Equipment Allegedly Sold, But Still on Site

The company also seemingly abandoned rusting equipment on the site. The equipment includes a dredge, excavators, front loaders, dump trucks and trailers. Since the TCEQ’s followup investigations in June 2020, the company removed several dump trucks, but the vast majority of the other equipment remains – despite assurances from the company that it had all been sold. Neither the TCEQ, nor Texas Concrete has volunteered when the company will remove the equipment.

Weeds growing around tanker testify to how long it has remained there. 7/19/2020
Dredge still on site as of 7/19/2020
Cyanobacteria have taken over some of the ponds at the abandoned Texas Concrete Mine. 7/20/2020. The pond was not tested for cyanotoxins.

No Additional Leaks Found

There is some good news from the latest investigation. Texas Concrete plugged previous breaches in its dikes. The investigator did not find any new unauthorized discharges, or discharges that failed to meet water quality specs.

Approaching Peak of Hurricane Season and Year Wasted

Still, three tropical disturbances making their way across the Atlantic at this moment make a stark reminder of why abandonment requirements exist. This site has sat unused for approximately a year. That should have been plenty of time to establish grass at a minimum and to restore this site.

Texas Concrete brags that it is a member of TACA and that TxDoT is one of its customers.

If the State of Texas is serious about enforcing environmental regulations, now would be a good time to start. And this would be a good place.

The only thing that separates neighborhood kids from playing in the sand, climbing on the equipment, and swimming in the colorful water. The security guard sign is a bluff.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/20/2020

1056 Days after Hurricane Harvey and 305 since Imelda

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.