Aldine residents say they don’t want to see another concrete batch plant built

From pollution to loud noise and possible health issues, residents in Aldine shared concerns on why they do not want a ninth concrete batch plant facility. 

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality have a public meeting at the East Aldine Management District scheduled at 7 p.m Thursday on the proposed concrete batch facility would be located on the 10,000 block of the Eastex Freeway, near a residential neighborhood and an inclusive park for people with disabilities. 

With eight concrete batch plants in the Aldine area already, residents like Candelario Vasquez are fed up with the dust, extra pollution and excessive noise. 

"You got a school right there, a school right here -- Stephens Elementary, bunch of kids around, running around so yeah I wouldn’t recommend it," Vasquez said. "When they start construction like they’re doing construction over there, all the concrete and the winds blowing, when we’re coming out to go to work, it’s blowing in our faces. No. No. We don’t need that." 

MORE HOUSTON AREA NEWS

On Wednesday, elected officials including Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia held a news conference to show support for those opposed to the project. 

"An $8-million dollar investment has been made here because this community has long been forgotten and neglected and that is the case no longer," Garcia said. "I care about businesses, I want to bring more businesses, better paying jobs to the precinct but this community is already overwhelmed. Eight concrete batch plants is enough. We do not need anymore."

According to Avant Garde Construction, the La Porte-based company bought the seven-acre commercial property three years ago. The company's owner, Meliton Gomez promises the facility would bring jobs and do more good than harm, by conducting responsible operations. 

In a statement, the company said: 

"Avant Garde Construction Co. (AGC Ready-Mix) is a small family business that performs a wide range of projects - from concrete work to commercial buildings and custom homes. Company owner, Meliton Gomez, has worked in the petrochemical industry for over 25 years, heading leadership roles for major petrochemical construction projects, industrial operations and chemical research & development. He is also an industrial and municipal volunteer firefighter, rescue technician, medic and Hazmat technician.

"Over the years, he has personally seen these large industrial petrochemical facilities transform into a culture where companies and employees care about safety, environment and their compliance with governmental agencies. He has seen the positive impact agencies like TCEQ, EPA and OSHA have had on our industry. The adoption of new, improved and evolving technologies has helped minimize and mitigate the negative impact on the environment and protect its people and communities. He has experienced our industry adopt a culture of environmental responsibility and safety; one which we intend to continue. Accountability and proactive safety for the environment are paramount in developing a sustainable industry.

This is Meliton's experience and our company mindset. Our belief is in a culture of safety for us and our neighbors - being a good steward and good neighbor. Being a responsible business owner is key for businesses and residents to coexist. We are committed to listening to and working with our community.

As a small family business, we will operate this plant daily with responsibilities to include: safety, logistics, purchasing, compliance, reporting, and quality.

Why here on our commercial site?

When we purchased this 7 acre commercial property 3 years ago it was overgrown with trees and brush, and it was being used for illegal dumping and criminal activity – car parts, tires and beer cans were littered everywhere. Getting rid of this criminal activity has been a big improvement for our community. We have paid over

$140K in costs of clearing and hauled away literally tons of trash. We have invested in fencing and improvements, not to mention the money we put into buying our site. We have our life savings invested here.

The park was not re-developed at the time we started improving this site. We developed our business plan and have met all the rules and requirements for a concrete plant.

Concrete is an essential construction material that supports Texas’ tremendous growth. Logistically, transporting concrete is becoming more challenging as traffic increases throughout the city. Concrete has a mixture shelf life of <90 minutes; the shorter the transport distance and time, the friendlier we are to the environment.

Our commercial site is centrally located in the city and has over 300 feet of frontage road on Highway 59. Our plant will be located 100 feet from the frontage road with a concrete paved driveway for direct entry and exit. Easy freeway access to our site will eliminate trucks traveling throughout our neighborhood streets. Commercial trucks will not be allowed on Nuggent St.

The majority of the concrete from our site will serve local residential demand and growth. Partnering with local contractors will be beneficial to area projects and expansions, not to mention tax dollars for our community and local government.

Overview of our commitment and responsibility

This facility will have the best available abatement equipment and design to protect our air quality, water, and more importantly our employees and neighbors.

We are committed to providing an Operational, Health/Safety and Dust Control Plan and committed to meet and exceed regulations and guidelines set by our local, state and federal agencies.

The following are a few of the many requirements from our operations manual that we will focus on and provide:

● Our concrete plant will be newly built and will have all the newest air abatement equipment to comply with all environmental regulations- best available central dust collector.

● Our responsibility as plant owners will include an operation and health & safety manuals; this will define our policies for daily proactive monitoring of our equipment and site.

● Proper training of our employees will assure safe conditions, more especially on critical dust suppression systems like our dust collector, which is very efficient in removing dust. Responsible compliance with environmental and safety requirements is paramount to our operations, it will be part of our employee training.

● We will maintain onsite environmental compliance and reporting logs.

● Fence barrier to aid in dust, noise and light suppression around our site. Based on community feedback we are further planning on planting trees along fence lines to help enhance noise and dust control.

● Use of pre-washed aggregates will drastically reduce any potential dust from its use. Aggregates will be bunkered to prevent potential wind-borne dust.

● High traffic areas will be concrete-paved, such as our parking lot and plant-bunkered aggregate areas to minimize potential dust and prevent track-out into local roads. Concrete pavement is easier to maintain and keep clean.

● All truck loading and truck washing areas will be sloped down to water collection basins and settling ponds. This will ensure the water used for dust mitigation and washing does not leave our site. Our water management system will capture stormwater for reuse as well.

● Sprinkler systems, mechanical sweepers, water trucks, and mixer truck wash areas will be utilized to minimize dust and dirt leaving our site.

● Good housekeeping requirements throughout our site will eliminate potential accidents. Spills will be cleaned up immediately to minimize dust and environmental impacts. All employees shall keep their work area in a clean and orderly manner.

● Minimal plant lighting, enough for the safety of our employees and to visually monitor emissions in low light conditions.

● CenterPoint energy will supply electricity to our plant. No diesel generators will be used.

● We are currently looking for a home in the area to purchase. We want to minimize our commute to work.

● We will address community concerns immediately, our personal contact info is attached, we will maintain an open line and address concerns promptly.

In addition to adhering to numerous local, state, and federal regulations, AGC Ready-Mix will incorporate best-control and management practices to mitigate airborne dust, noise and truck traffic. We’re committed to listening and being a long-term, responsible member of the community."