TCEQ to hold hearing regarding new batch plant permit

Air Alliance Houston is encouraging Houstonians to share their concerns and comments about a proposed concrete batch plant in south Houston at a Nov. 13 public hearing.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will hold a hearing on Locke Investments LLC’s application for an air quality permit that would allow construction of a concrete batch plant at 700 Almeda-Genoa. The hearing will begin at 7 p.m. at Hiram Clarke Multi-Service Center, 3810 West Fuqua.

Harris County is already home to 188 concrete batch plants, more than any other county in Texas. These plants, which produce the ready-mix concrete used for new buildings and roads, create so much dust that nearby residents say it is hard to breathe. Studies have linked airborne particulate matter to asthma, lung disease and heart disease – and even premature death.

In addition to the health risks, these plants are a nuisance to neighbors because they can operate at all hours, disrupting sleep with noise and light pollution. Houston’s lack of zoning restrictions allows these facilities to operate in residential areas. It is likely that the number of these operations will rise with population growth.

Although TCEQ’s executive director says Locke Investments’ application meets the permit requirements, Air Alliance Houston strongly opposes the construction of this facility because of the threats to public health. We encourage Houstonians to share their opinions by attending the public hearing or submitting them online through the TCEQ website.

Air Alliance Houston recently performed air monitoring for seven days in one community and while we found elevated particulate matter 2.5 levels, they do not exceed any EPA standards. While we were monitoring, we also had two days with readings at 13.49 microns/m^3 and 20.52 microns/m^3.  Our preliminary research found that when 24-hour particulate matter 2.5 levels at a location are above 10.36 μg/m3, they are high enough to be associated with an excess risk of cardiovascular mortality two and three days post-exposure. When these levels are above 10.838 μg/m3, they are high enough to be associated with an excess risk of cardiovascular and respiratory hospitalizations on the day of exposure. Air Alliance Houston plans to continue to long-term air monitoring and present more data and findings on particulate matter levels.