Vulcan Quarry in Texas Clears Major Hurdle

A Comal County, Texas, limestone quarry is one step closer to breaking ground after passing a major permitting hurdle, according to the San Antonio Business Journal.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) approved an air quality permit for a Vulcan Materials Co. rock-crushing facility that will sit on a 1,500-acre quarry between Bulverde and New Braunfels.

All three TCEQ commissioners gave their blessing to the plant, following a September decision by an administrative law judge that particulate matter and crystalline silica released by crushing the rock won’t exceed state limits.

“The Texas Government Code prohibits the Commission from substituting its own judgement in place of the ALJ’s judgement,” TCEQ Chairman Jon Niermann said. “And I would add that even if we were tempted to do so, we would very likely be overturned on appeal at the expense of all of the parties, as well as the Texas taxpayers.”

Among those who appeared at hearings was a policy analyst for State Rep. Kyle Biedermann (R-District 73), whose district includes Comal County. The analyst read a letter into the record that Biedermann wrote to the commissioners, calling for the TCEQ to impose stricter standards on quarries and other aggregate production operators looking to be permitted.

The decision came after the commissioners heard arguments from a company attorney and an attorney representing Comal County landowners and residents opposing the construction of the quarry.

One of the groups opposing the quarry, Friends of Dry Comal Creek, said it planned to file a motion asking the TCEQ to reconsider its decision. Vulcan still needs to file for a water quality permit to operate the plant.

California Plant Faces Odor Complaints

A year ago, residents near Superior Ready Mix (SRM) in Mission Gorge, Calif., claimed the concrete plant was turning their neighborhood into a dust bowl, according to the Mission Times-Courier. That issue has since subsided. But neighbors now are insisting a new problem – health concerns from foul odors – has taken its place.

Numerous neighbors near Superior have recently complained of noxious odors they claim are coming from the asphalt plant to San Diego Fire Rescue, Hazmat and SDG&E. All three agencies responded and investigated.

Noting the quarry at 7500 Mission Gorge Road began operations in the 1940s, and has been yielding much-needed construction materials ever since, SRM spokesperson Arnold Veldkamp said: “Complaints about odor have been very infrequent, and most of the time there is no detectable odor from the asphalt plant. Regardless, Superior purchases a chemical additive which is added to asphalt oil to reduce the odor.

“Recently, Superior has been supplying rubberized asphalt for road repair for the City of El Cajon,” Veldkamp said. “Rubberized asphalt uses a liquid asphalt blend that uses rubber from recycled tires, and unfortunately, has a stronger odor than regular asphalt.”

Neighbors said they want a voice in the process of SRM’s permit renewal.

Colorado Quarry Plan Shot Down

After many months of deliberating and community members voicing concerns, the Adams County, Colo., board of commissioners unanimously voted at a Nov. 19 public hearing to reject a mining operation just west of Brighton, Colo., according to the Brighton Standard Blade.

Aggregate Industries’ application was to extract sand and gravel from several parcels of land at the intersection of state Highway 7 and Tucson Street, less than a mile from downtown Brighton. Previous public hearings resulted in a continuance for the applicant to make subsequent changes.

When the application came before the board, community members began vocalizing their anxieties more. Many worried about truck traffic, while local business owners were concerned prospective customers would be deterred, and area residents feared air pollution and dust impacts.

An earlier point of contention was the operation’s originally proposed first phase on the south side of SH 7, across from Tucson Street. For material to be moved, trucks would have driven on SH 7, which is heavily trafficked.

Aggregate Industries decided to cut out the south parcel to comply with the board’s conditions. However, that parcel was never removed from a state application with the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety. Several commissioners said this felt untrustworthy.

A representative of Aggregate Industries defended the company, saying it wasn’t going back on promises made to the county. Rather, the representative said Aggregate Industries would adjust the DRMS application after solidifying permitting conditions with Adams County.  

Related posts