TCEQ grants air quality permit to Asphalt Inc.

Marble Falls Mayor John Packer speaks during an Oct. 26 air quality permit information meeting at Lakeside Pavilion regarding the proposed Asphalt Inc. rock crushing plant.

Note: Read all the responses, "TCEQ Response to Comments Asphalt Inc 148112," here, at HighlanderNews.com: http://bit.ly/2Aeg8cm

By Lew K. Cohn

Managing Editor

The Highlander

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has granted an air quality standard permit for a permanent rock and concrete crusher to Asphalt Inc. for a new plant to be built south of Marble Falls near US 281.

With the permit, Asphalt Inc. now has 18 months to begin construction of the new facility, which would have an entrance 90 feet west of US 281 and approximately 2.6 miles south of the intersection of Texas 71 near Flat Rock Road, which is Burnet County Road 403.

Asphalt Inc. Operations Manager Troy Carter said he expects the plant will generate about 300,000 to 400,000 tons of raw materials per year for the company's Spicewood concrete plant.

“We received the notification Thursday and we are pleased that we got it,” Carter said. “There is a set of rules for that particular type of permit and as long as you show you will follow the rules and meet the guidelines, getting the permit is normally a foregone conclusion.

“TxDOT has a deadline, once we meet all the requirements with holding a public meeting and they actually pushed (the decision) back to the last day of the deadline. Considering the large amount of responses they had (from public comments during the public comment period), it seems they were trying to get all the responses out to those comments prior to issuing the permit.”

Carter said there are still many steps which will need to be completed prior to beginning construction on the property.

“We are still a ways out before we begin any construction,” he said. “We still have several different hoops to jump through, including getting our stormwater drainage permit with the city of Marble Falls, a fire marshal permit and our TxDOT driveway permits, among others.

“It is a long process. The air quality permit is just one small piece of it, but it seems to be the one that gets the most publicity because of having to publish the public notices and hold a public meeting.”

Carter said Monday his company is willing to listen to the city of Marble Falls officials about any proposals the city may have for compromise that would allow both to peacefully co-exist.

“Obviously, we bought this property with the intent to operate a facility and we have invested a rather large amount of money in it,” Carter said. “However, we are more than open to any sort of compromise or possible resolution that makes everyone happy.

“It may be the city doesn't see that and the best approach is to try to stop us legally. I know there are certainly things going on behind the scenes in which they are considering legal action. The bottom line is we (Asphalt Inc.) certainly don't pick places to see who we can fight with, but because of the available deposits and economic growth in the area. Like anyone else, we are trying to do what we do for a living, but we also understand that what we do isn't always popular and we are more than willing to listen if opportunities are presented to us, but they have to be presented first.”

Carter said he has spoken to city officials about obtaining the necessary permits but no one has reached out to the company with a compromise proposal since the public meeting in October.

Meanwhile, Marble Falls Mayor John Packer said Monday he and other city officials are “obviously disappointed by TCEQ's decision, but it was expected because of the way the flawed process is to grant these types of permits.”

“The council will be contemplating its next steps as far as the city is concerned and we have this issue listed on our executive session agenda (for Tuesday night's meeting) to visit what our options are,” Packer said.

“We have annexed a good portion of the property in that area, so the plant would have to obtain a stormwater runoff permit from the city. They also still will need permits from TxDOT (Texas Department of Transportation) as well as the Central Texas Groundwater Conservation District if they drill any water wells. However, as long as they meet all of the requirements, we would be legally obligated to grant them a permit.”

Packer said the city may have not succeeded in convincing TCEQ to withhold an air quality permit, but “we are not going to just quit fighting this issue. We will definitely be discussing what we can do next legally and what that next step should be.”

Air Permits Division director Michael Wilson P.E. wrote a Nov. 30 letter to Carter, informing him of the executive director's decision to grant the permit.

“After evaluation of the information you submitted, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has determined that your proposed construction is authorized by the Air Quality Standard Permit for Rock and Concrete Crushers effective July 31, 2008, if constructed and operated as represented in your application,” wrote Wilson. “This standard permit was issued under the Texas Clean Air Act (TCAA) § 382.011, which authorizes the commission to control the quality of the state’s air, TCAA § 382.023, which authorizes the commission to issue orders necessary to carry out the policy and purposes of the TCAA, and § 382.05195, which authorizes the commission to issue standard permits.

“Copies of the air quality standard permit general and specific conditions in effect at the time of this registration are enclosed,” the letter continued. “You must begin construction or modification of these facilities in accordance with the standard permit no later than 18 months after the date of this letter. You must notify the appropriate TCEQ Regional Office and any other local air pollution control agency having jurisdiction of the start and completion of construction; and prior to starting operation activities.

“You are reminded that regardless of whether a permit is required, these facilities must be in compliance with all rules and regulations of the TCEQ and of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at all times.”

Air quality standard permit general and specific conditions require the concrete crushing facility to be operated at least 440 yards from any building which was in use as a single or multi-family residence, school, or place of worship at the time the permit application was filed. It can only run from one hour before official sunrise to one hour after official sunset and only for 2,640 hours in any rolling 12 month period.

Also, the facility is required to keep a rolling 24-month written record that can be reviewed at any time by TCEQ and must show daily hours of operation, per hour throughput, road and work cleaning and dust suppression logs and stockpile dust suppression logs.

The primary crusher throughput cannot exceed 200 tons per hour and the crusher cannot be located less than 200 feet from a property line. It also must be at least 550 feet from any other rock crusher, concrete crusher, concrete batch plant, or hot mix asphalt plant.

Raw material and product stockpile heights cannot exceed 45 feet and all work areas and stockpiles, must be located at least 100 feet from the property line, according to the regulations.

Visible emissions cannot leave the property for a period of longer than 30 seconds in duration during any six-minute period and all dust emissions associated with the operation of the crusher or any associated facility must be minimized, either through covering them with a material, treating them with dust-suppressant chemicals, watering the dust or paving roads with a cohesive hard surface. All stockpiles also must be sprinkled with water, dust-suppressant chemicals or covered to reduce dust emissions.

The air quality permit was the subject of a contentious public information meeting Oct. 26 at Lakeside Pavilion, attended by more than 400 people, the majority of them opposed to the proposed plant.

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