About a month ago, I wrote about a rather dumb idea in Texas. A local government entity there appeared dead set on opening up a hazardous waste landfill in an area that is a high-risk flood plain in the state. It appears as though they’ve learned no lessons from recent catastrophes.
Here’s what I wrote then:
That is more than a little problematic, considering that toxic dumps in the Houston area flooded during Harvey, creating a potential environmental disaster. The Associated Press covered the issue of flooding toxic dump sites just after Harvey struck, detailing how more than a dozen of the 41 toxic sites had flooded and were possibly damaged by the storm.
While it’s not a bad idea for Texas to fix the issue of flood planning, it is somewhat odd that one of the biggest hazards to Texas citizens in the event of another major flood is not only not being addressed, but actually expanded.
The problem is that allowing more of these sites to be built in these flood plains will just end up costing the state more than they already want to spend on the plan, which itself is a pretty hefty bill.
I am hoping that someone from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) reads RedState frequently enough to see this, because it appears that Texas isn’t possibly opening up just one, but two toxic waste dumps. This one would be in Rice County.
Although a pair of administrative law judges recommended the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality deny a permit application for a hazardous waste landfill near Altair early last Wednesday morning, attorneys representing the county, Rice Consolidated ISD, and the local groundwater conservation in the litigation say the TCEQ could still grant the permit, attorneys for the county said Monday morning.
Kelly Brown, the attorney representing the county and other local entities challenging the permits, (called “aligned protestants,” in the legal parlance of Texas administrative law), said Monday that the TCEQ commissioners could do one of three things: agree with the administrative law judge’s recommendation and deny the permit, grant the permit, or grant the permit with conditions.
This comes at the same time as the Texas legislature is looking at adopting a flood plan in the event of a major crisis like Hurricane Harvey. When I last wrote about it, they were considering a very hefty price tag on a plan.
Now, the plans from the Texas House and the Texas Senate differ. The Senate passed their version of a bill, which would pull $1.8 billion from the state’s rainy day fund. The House is looking for $4 billion.
Sure, less spending is better and the Senate plan is preferable, but how much of that money would end up being used to clean up a flooded toxic waste dump and the surrounding area because TCEQ approved two hazardous materials dumps in flood zones?
This comes at a time when we’ve been told to expect a light hurricane season, but have a named storm in the Atlantic before hurricane season has even officially started. As someone who lives in a Gulf Coast state (Louisiana), I’m way more worried about what the hell is going to happen to my home when it floods than the necessity of a toxic dump.
It’s not a wise choice, and I hope TCEQ sees that and makes the right call on both sites.