Citizens Against the Landfill in Hempstead

The New, Bigger, Badder, More Dangerous Pintail Landfill II
(Or How to Add Insult to Injury)

-October 5, 2016
It’s been 5 years, 3 months, 2 weeks, and 3 days, or a total of 1,936 days since the public citizens of Waller County found out about a potential 250 acre mega-landfill being proposed in Hempstead, Texas on June 18, 2011.

During that long period of time, in which there were many twists and turns, the citizens of this area banded together in an historic effort to eventually defeat the original proposed Pintail Landfill. That effort culminated with the Director of the Waste Permits Division of TCEQ sending a letter to the President of Green Group Holdings stating that “For the integrity of the Municipal Solid Waste landfill program” of TCEQ, the only reasonable course available was for TCEQ to return the application as deficient. Such was the magnitude of the mischaracterization of the site by the applicant, and proven by the efforts of CALH, the new leadership of Waller County, the City of Hempstead, and all of the experts and attorneys hired by all.

More than 1.8 million dollars was raised and spent by CALH alone in the effort. The sacrifices made by the community and tireless volunteers in time, effort and money truly changed people’s lives in ways that cannot ever be compensated for. A large portion of the citizenry put their lives on hold for more than five years during the long struggle.

Yet, just when we all thought that we could attempt to resume our lives and prior ambitions, Green Group Holdings has returned to attempt to exact an even greater toll on our community with a new proposed Pintail Landfill that would pose a far greater threat than the original.

The new proposal outlined in their recent submission of Parts I and II of a new partial application to TCEQ can only be construed as vindictive and an insult to the people of Waller County and the surrounding region. Did Green Group come back with an application that would be smaller, less obtrusive or more protective of the environment and human health and safety? NO, in fact, it is quite the opposite.

In the original application, either through negligence, incompetence, or worse, Green Group portrayed that the bottom liner of their landfill would remain above the water table and not be submerged within it. The opposition repeatedly warned both Green Group and the TCEQ that such would not be the case. Ultimately, we were able to prove that when the water table returned to a more normal level after an exceptional two year drought, and that is what led to the eventual return of the application.

The new proposal would utilize a disposal area footprint identical to the old one, however the bottom liner of this newly proposed landfill would be submerged into the water table of our freshwater aquifer nearly 23 feet deeper than the original one turned out to be. This, in the “sugar sands” of this recharge zone of our major aquifer poses a significantly greater risk of contamination of our only source of drinking water in the region. Also, this new proposed landfill would be nearly ten stories taller than the original one, placing substantially greater pressure on the fragile bottom liner. Its volumetric capacity would be increased by over 19.3 million cubic yards and the operating lifetime of the landfill would be increased by 18 years, to a total of 67 years.

In addition, there are no exclusions in the new application on accepting any the following types of wastes, as there was in the original application:
• Medical waste
• Sewage
• Dead animals
• Slaughterhouse waste
• Sludge
• Grease trap waste
• Grit trap waste
• Liquid waste from municipal sources
• Municipal hazardous waste from conditionally exempt small quantity generators
• Out of State waste
• Or, Radioactive waste that may be authorized by Title 30 TAC Chapter 336 or that are subject to an extension

It is almost unimaginable that anyone would, or even could, think about coming back and inflicting such insult upon previous injury to a community and an entire region which has fought hard and suffered monetary and life changing impacts in the effort to protect their community for such an extended period of time. But, nonetheless, we are now back at square one.

What makes this even all the more a slap in the face is the fact that both the City of Hempstead and Waller County has had existing landfill siting ordinances in place prohibiting a landfill at this location well before the submission of this new partial application. These ordinances prohibit the TCEQ from granting a permit in this case. Yet, as part of their new application Green Group Holdings is making some rather far-fetched legal arguments that the ordinances are not valid, a matter that can only rightfully be decided in our local District Court of Law.

The TCEQ, being a state regulatory agency, simply does not have the judicial authority to determine the validity of local governmental ordinances. Instead of returning this new application and admitting that they are barred from making a decision on the validity of the ordinances, TCEQ has recently announced that they will hold a new “Public Meeting” on this application on Tuesday, October 25, at 7 pm in the Hempstead High School Auditorium. They are wasting both state and local taxpayer’s hard earned money and resources in going forward in processing this application and conducting such a public meeting, all the while saying that they have yet to make a decision on the ordinances. That decision is not their decision to make.

We must once again band together and let TCEQ and Green Group Holdings know that our community’s commitment and resolution to fight this abomination has not only not waned, but will be greater than ever once the word gets out about what can only be seen as nothing more than a vindictive insult to all of us. We must all be responsible and take action to insure that we will have a greater turnout of citizens making comments at this October 25 TCEQ Public Meeting than we ever had at the previous ones years ago. We must stop this nonsense now.

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Latest News

TCEQ-sponsored Public Meeting - October 25, 2016 - Hempstead High School Auditorium
Sen. Lois Kolkhorst Stands Up for Waller County Against Pintail Landfill Application No. 2

The Tuesday, October 25, 2016, TCEQ-sponsored Public Meeting on Pintail Landfill was a proud evening for the citizens of Waller County. With over 350 people in attendance, almost every seat in the Hempstead High School Auditorium was filled as the meeting was called to order at a little after 7 pm. What was clear by the end of the meeting 4-1/2 hours later was that every speaker was strongly opposed to Pintail Landfill, raising relevant and accurate issues backed by factual information, something that comes perhaps from a long 5 years of living with this landfill threat. It cannot be typical for the average citizen to speak of ‘recharge zones’ and ‘aquifers’, ‘extra territorial jurisdictions’ and ‘bifurcated applications’, but this has been an education for the people of Waller County.

The TCEQ moderator began the meeting with introductions: The two Pintail Landfill LLC representatives were David Green, President, Green Group Holdings, and their attorney, John Riley, both new faces to this 5-year battle although not new to this industry, and TCEQ representatives, Anthony Tatu, Staff Attorney, Earl Lott, Director, Waste Permits Division, Chance Goodin, Manager, Municipal Solid Waste Permits Section, and Garrett Arthur, Senior Attorney, Office of Public Interest Counsel (OPIC) for TCEQ.

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Our Senator, Lois Kolkhorst, was invited to speak first, and she began by reading her formal statement which was entered into the TCEQ Public Comment record. In her letter, the Senator emphasized that, with local prohibitive ordinances in place, the TCEQ should not have the power to determine the validity of these ordinances. She stated that the TCEQ should deny this second application and that ‘state agencies must never reward bad behavior’. Senator Kolkhorst went on to praise the citizens of Waller County for their vigilance without which our state would be living with a ‘dangerously flawed landfill that would have failed TCEQ requirements’. She completed her official letter and statement by saying that the TCEQ should ‘Issue another and final denial’ to Pintail Landfill. Senator Kolkhorst then spoke off the record by telling the audience how she had been ‘inspired and awed by the passion and tenacity’ of this community to raise money with garage sales to fight this landfill. She commented to the Pintail representatives that their consultant team had been flawed and selected the wrong location. Then, addressing the TCEQ group, she said that TCEQ is not the judiciary and urged that they let this ordinance issue go before the judicial branch where it should be decided. She received several standing ovations during her speech as those in attendance were obviously impressed with her ‘heartfelt conviction’ and willingness to stand up in support of Waller County citizens.

In brief, other noted speakers included attorneys for Waller County and CALH, J.D. Head and Michael Woodward respectively, who highlighted the legal issues...former Prairie View Mayor, Frank Jackson reading a letter on behalf of George C. Wright, President of Prairie View A & M University, whose letter described Pintail Landfill at this location as a threat to his legacy at the university and a detriment to its future…John Amsler, Waller County Commissioner Pct 1, vowed to continue his election promise to fight to stop Pintail Landfill…Wayne Dolcefino spoke of the unfairness of this procedure, the injustice of giving Pintail a 2nd chance, on the citizens of Waller County...Judge June Jackson expressed similar concerns and cautioned TCEQ not to take the responsibility of ruling on the City and County ordinances as TCEQ is not part of the judicial branch of government and does not have the authority to determine the validity of local governmental ordinances…Kay Kloecker, Hempstead school board member, spoke in defense of the 1400 students, some campuses only a mile or so from this proposed site…Bill Huntsinger, CALH President, delivered approximately 1,350 protesting Comment Letters to the TCEQ and outlined the hard work put in by the community and the need for TCEQ to reject this application…

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Patton King, a welcome visitor from neighboring Caldwell County where Green Group is attempting to permit another landfill called the 130 Environmental Park, pointed out discrepancies and made some excellent points on questionable actions by GGH representatives there…newly elected Mayor of Prairie View, David Allen, spoke of the threat of Pintail Landfill to his city, the historic Prairie View A & M University and the danger to the revenue that that institution generates in Waller County…Mayor of Hempstead, Michael S. Wolfe, expressed emphatically that the City would stand by its ordinance and is firm in the belief that this ordinance prohibits a landfill at the location on Hwy 6… and many more members of the community, CALH and PVAMU students eloquently shared concerns and their pledge to continue to work to remove Pintail Landfill from Waller County, and urged TCEQ to reject this new application.

The evening ended shortly after 11:30 pm with the ball now in TCEQ’s court who, if they do the right thing legally, ethically and morally, will return and reject this application. One thing is certain, Waller County remains united in this effort to fight Pintail Landfill, more strongly now than ever, and the TCEQ should be well aware of that.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW VIDEO OF PUBLIC MEETING

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