The air quality permit for the Comal County Vulcan Quarry may have been officially granted, but local anti-quarry environmental groups aren’t backing down in their fight against the permit and quarry.
Stop 3009 Vulcan Quarry and Friends of Dry Comal Creek have filed a motion for rehearing their case in opposition to the permit requested by Vulcan Construction Materials, LLC. The permit was granted in November, making way for the construction of a 1,500-acre limestone-mining quarry and rock crushing plant at State Highway 46 and FM 3009.
“Unfortunately, TCEQ let down Texas citizens yet again,” said David Drewa, Stop 3009 Vulcan Quarry spokesperson, shortly after the approval of the permit. “Despite opposition from hundreds of Comal County residents, many citizen groups, and State Representative Kyle Biedermann, TCEQ Commissioners rendered a decision to grant the air quality permit to Vulcan Materials for the 1,500-acre quarry between New Braunfels and Bulverde.”
The motion for a rehearing was filed with the State Office of Administrative Hearings last week by Frederick, Perales, Allmon & Rockwell, P.C., attorneys representing citizen groups with over 100 members who oppose the quarry.
The motion states that according to Texas law, TCEQ “may permit a facility only if the Commission finds no indication the facility will harm the public’s health and physical property,” according to a statement from Stop 3009 Vulcan Quarry.
“Area residents are concerned about the carcinogenic air pollution, increased truck traffic, decreased property values, endangered water resources and other impacts on the environment that would likely result from the location of this heavy industrial facility in a residential area populated by over 12,000 people,” the group’s statement reads.
Anti-quarry groups were formerly granted a SOAH hearing, in which SOAH judges decided to move for approval after a couple months of deliberation.
The motion cites several reasons anti-quarry groups believe TCEQ should reverse their permit approval, including “failure to require or conduct a health effects review; failure to consider air pollution sources such as roads, mining and blasting operations, and product transport; failure to consider cumulative impact of pollution from certain existing aggregate plants in the area; failure to undertake a best available control technology analysis; failure to analyze health impact from diesel engine exhaust; and allowing Vulcan to use ‘trade secret’ excuses to hide from both TCEQ and citizens key core sample data used to model air contamination.”
TCEQ has 30 days from the filing of the motion, which may result in a new SOAH hearing.
“I’m hoping that Santa got my Christmas list this year: a new, fairer and more favorable hearing was at the top,” joked Milann Guckian, president of Stop 3009 Vulcan Quarry.
Should the motion receive an unfavorable decision, the group plans to move to the next step in the process, Guckian said.
“We will continue to pursue all legal options available to block this facility, including the appeals process for the air permit, in order to protect the health of our families and our natural resources.”
In addition to an air permit, Vulcan still must submit a Water Pollution Abatement Plan (WPAP) to TCEQ since the proposed quarry would be located over the environmentally sensitive Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone.
Vulcan has not yet submitted their WPAP, but local residents are prepared to oppose the plan, should it contain insufficient protections for public safety, Drewa said.
Following the approval of the air permit in November, Vulcan spokesperson Scott Burnham said Vulcan Materials is pleased in the TCEQ commissioners’ decision to approve it.
“The decision … demonstrates that we have presented a responsible plan for this site that shows Vulcan is committed to the county and doing things the right way. We look forward to working with our neighbors and the community,” Burnham said.