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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