Citizens Against the Landfill in Hempstead

Since its formation in mid-2011, Citizens Against the Landfill in Hempstead (CALH) has been fighting to prevent the Pintail Landfill project, proposed for a 723 acre property called the Rainey Ranch, just one mile north of US 290 on Hwy 6, near Hempstead, Texas.

With the knowledge that this location was the worst possible site for a landfill and with little or no support from the majority of County elected officials, CALH hired first-class experts in the legal and engineering fields to help stop Pintail in various courts of law.  The verdict in our favor in the City of Hempstead/CALH v Waller County/Pintail trial in December 2014, along with the related settlement agreement on February 20, 2015, were important victories for CALH and its supporters.  The Contested Case Hearing before the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) began in July of 2014.  A year into that process, a site visit by CALH experts and representatives on July 17, 2015, led to the discovery of alarmingly high water table elevations, which had long been warned of by CALH and other protestants.  Some had increased by as much as 7 ft. from Pintail’s reported highest measured levels and in fact one monitoring well was spewing water into the air.  Click Here to View article. This eventually forced Pintail to admit that their application was not in compliance with TCEQ requirements and the SOAH Administrative Law Judges remanded the case back to the TCEQ.  CALH’s optimism for a just outcome to this battle arrived with a terse letter dated October 5, 2015, from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Director of Waste Permits Division to Pintail Landfill LLC’s Manager and Green Group Holdings President, Ernest Kaufmann, advising that their MSW permit application No. 2377 was being returned. Click Here to View letter.  More than five months after receiving the TCEQ rejection letter, and using a new law firm, Pintail Landfill LLC submitted a Motion for Review and Reversal, challenging the Executive Director’s authority to return the application and, in effect, asking that it be reviewed by the TCEQ Commissioners.  On May 4, 2016, TCEQ’s general legal counsel responded in a brief letter which stated that the TCEQ no longer had jurisdiction to act on this application. Click Here to View letter

Our story has taken many twists and turns, often seemingly uphill, but our perseverance and determination have never waned.  Thankfully, CALH has not been alone in this fight.  The City of Hempstead has been an indispensable ally since very early on and Waller County Commissioners Court has been supportive of this issue beginning in January of 2015 when several newly elected officials took office.  However, our greatest resource and asset has always been the people of Waller County and other concerned citizens who have been willing to donate their time, knowledge and resources.  The number of volunteer hours spent to further this cause is phenomenal, and creative, hardworking people have organized a multitude of fundraising efforts to pay for our experts over the years.  The fight is not completely over and, with current outstanding invoices and unknown costs in the future, we plan to continue with fundraising events like our renowned ‘more than a’ Garage Sales.  Yet, at this point, we are more confident than ever that we will ultimately win this battle.

Please browse our website for articles on these important legal matters, information and updates on events, past and future, various news items from TV, radio and newspapers and an enormous photo album.  We also have a section on donations and fundraising which lists many ways that you can help.

We appreciate that everyone has remained alongside CALH as we see this battle through to its just conclusion: an end to this landfill proposition and a return to a bright future for Waller County!

Sincerely,

Citizens Against the Landfill in Hempstead

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Latest News

Houston Chronicle - Waller County Landfill Proposal Revived

BY EMILY FOXHALL
A Georgia-based company on Wednesday announced it had initiated a new application to build a controversial landfill in Waller County, bringing renewed attention to a project that a citizens group and several county commissioners have actively opposed.

Earlier this year, Commissioner John Amsler had described the landfill as “dead” though at the time the proponent, Green Group Holdings LLC, was exploring ways to still bring the project to reality.

On Tuesday, the firm filed the first two parts of an application for construction of the Pintail Landfill with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, agency spokeswoman Andrea Morrow confirmed.

The portions submitted deal with whether the land can be used for waste disposal. They will be reviewed to decide whether the application can go forward, Morrow wrote in an email.

It’s the latest wrinkle in a yearslong fight over the landfill proposed north of Hempstead off Texas 6 in Waller County — a site about 50 miles northwest of downtown Houston.

Green Group’s new application follows the rejection last fall by TCEQ of a previous proposal, which found the company had not adequately accounted for how high the water might rise in the area. TCEQ this spring also denied an appeal of that rejection, saying the appeal came too late.

In a news release, Green Group said the company was “confident” its new application would meet “all applicable design and location standards.” The new proposed landfill will be on a smaller portion of the of the original site.

News of the filing concerned Citizens Against the Landfill in Hempstead, which has actively opposed the proposal, believing that it would negatively impact the area’s water supply and economic vitality.

After first opposing the plans five years ago, the grass-roots group has kept a close eye on the project. Members of the group last month predicted the fight would continue when the company finalized the purchase of a 723-acre parcel where it plans to build the landfill.

“CALH remains strongly opposed to Pintail Landfill,” treasurer Mike McCall said Wednesday on behalf of the group. “We have got a lot of work to do to fairly evaluate that application. … Until that happens we are not going to have any further comment.”

Several county commissioners have also actively opposed the project. The commissioners court, along with the city of Hempstead, took steps to pass ordinances they believed would prohibit the construction of such a project.

The ordinances remain at issue in the new application. In the cover letter, Kenneth Welch, a principal engineer on the project, disagreed that the laws would have any bearing. He wrote that neither the city nor county landfill ordinance was valid and reiterated the company’s commitment to meeting the required standard.

“Pintail Landfill, LLC,” — a subsidiary of Green Group — “is fully committed to operating this landfill site consistent with applicable TCEQ regulations, which will protect human health and the environment while providing necessary waste disposal capacity of the residents, communities, and businesses within and outside Waller County, Texas,” wrote Welch, of Biggs and Matthews Environmental.

Commissioner Amsler expected the renewed effort would draw attention.

“That will be big news in this part of the country,” Amsler said. “I’m interested to know the details of what they’ve done.”

County Judge Trey Duhon said he was still reviewing the application but was unsure how the company expected to file to construct such a project given the local laws.

“I’m disappointed given everything that has transpired to this point that Green Group seems intent on trying to build a landfill in a location where it’s not suitable,” Duhon said. “That’s extremely distressing.”

A full application entails four parts, including details on how the disposal facility will operate and the means to protect public health and the environment.


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