HOUSTON – Residents in a north Harris County neighborhood are renewing their efforts to shut down a concrete batch plant they say is causing pollution and health problems.
Integrity Ready Mix Concrete sits on Hartwick Road, just off Aldine Westfield Road in the Lindale Farms neighborhood.
The company, owned by Manuel Malupa, taking over a space held by another concrete batch plant in 2014.
“The owner before him, he only had about fi trucks, they started at 7 in the morning, they didn’t bother nobody they were clean and now that guy came over here and it multiplies times four,” said resident Erick Garcia, who lives directly across from the plant.
Last week, Garcia posted video to social media that appears to show large dust clouds at the plant.
Residents said they are worried about what is in the air.
“It’s not healthy for us, eventually we are going to get sick,” Raymond Vera said.
But Malupa claims the dust seen on the cellphone video is not material from his plant.
“It’s not even a plant issue they’re complaining about it’s the property next door,” he said.
Malupa owns the property next door, which he says was recently vacated by a tenant who operated another business.
“A lot of just dust and dirt which we’re in the process of cleaning up,” he said.
Malupa said he’s made numerous improvements to the batch concrete plant and considers himself a good neighbor.
“We’re willing to work out something with the neighbors but they have to be realistic they they live in a mixed commercial-residential area,” Malupa said.
Residents said aside from the air pollution, they suffer from noise pollution from the plant operations and trucks at all hours of the night.
“They work at 12 in the morning, one in the morning, two in the morning, the noise is unbearable you hear everything,” Garcia said as he referred to another cellphone video.
A compliance report from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) shows four notices of violations against Integrity Ready Mix since 2015, including one for “failure to prevent visible emissions from the dust collection system.”
TCEQ said there was no judgement against the company as a result of the violations.
But Harris County’s involvement with the company tells a different story.
In a statement to KPRC 2, a spokesperson wrote:
“Harris County Pollution Control has received a resident complaint on this facility from the County Judge’s Office. We are well aware of Integrity Ready Mix’s long history of violations. Our investigators have conducted 39 inspections at this facility, which has resulted in both air violations over the last several years.
"Integrity Ready Mix has several locations throughout Harris County and has the most violations for a facility of this type in both air and water. Although most of the locations have been inspected, PCS has not recently inspected this location. We are adding it to our inspections list as a complaint-driven inspection.”
“I think as far as the standards that TCEQ and the state have, I think we’re abiding by them and even going above them. We 've always responded to what pollution control and the state has asked of us,” Malupa said.
In 2016, residents were unsuccessful in their attempt to get TCEQ to deny, the company’s 10-year, 24-hour renewal permit.
Rep. Armando Walle said his constituents have a right to be upset and blames what he calls “lax” TCEQ rules and regulations.
“When TCEQ comes to inspect the renewal process they just check if they filled out every box and in this case these folks had done so but they also had some violations. I want to change state law to give local counties authority to regulate these facilities,” Walle said.
But they say after four years without any changes in conditions, they are fed up and reenergized to shut the company down.
“We want to get them out of here already, it’s been four years and we’re done with it,” Garcia said.
The neighbors plan to organize a meeting and reach out to Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia for additional support.