EPA investigating Texas agency over discrimation against minorities

Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee announced what he calls a big win for county residents: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will now be conducting an investigation into the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ)’s concrete batch permitting criteria and processes under federal civil rights laws.                                                                                                                   

"Time and again the TCEQ has approved permits in these very same neighborhoods and failed to ensure that the solution that the pollution that comes out of these plants does not harm human health and the environment," says Menefee.


Residents of an Aldine neighborhood are happy with the developments.

"I definitely feel like they should care about our needs and our safety and our health issues," says Aldine Resident, Jamaal Ojo. "My wife is pregnant, and I feel like it’s not exactly safe."

Menefee says there are around 140 concrete batch plants in Harris County.

Harris County’s Pollution Control Services has conducted 349 investigations into them and has issued 224 violation notices.

His office also conducted an independent air modeling study.

"The emissions for particulate matter 2.5, 10 and crystalline silica are well beyond health-protective limits," says Menefee. "That means despite what the TCEQ has told the public, our modeling shows that the air that is admitted at these plants are harmful."

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Harris County is hoping the TCEQ will amend its Standard Permit process for concrete batch plants, and improve the notification and community impute process for impacted residents.

The dust, Menefee says, poses many health risks, including respiratory illness and the risk of cancer

Jamaal, who lives nearby the proposed concrete batch plant in Aldine, which would be located off of the Eastex Freeway, tells FOX 26 that residents were never notified.

"I’m very shocked and surprised, they’re doing this without giving us any kind of heads up," says Ojo.