Martin Marietta-South Post Oak Yard
By Aiyana Baptiste
A community of concerned individuals gathered on September 28 to discuss the renewal of the Martin Marietta Materials Air Quality Permit in the Westbury and Willow Waterhole community. During this discussion, community members expressed their worries about renewing the contract and how Martin Marietta would change their habits within operation hours. Community members shared their concerns with Martin Marietta representatives and with the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Most of the communities' concerns focused on the breakdown of Martin Marietta’s permit conditions and looking into the health facts of concrete batches in their community. The permit renewal is known to last 10 years. If this permit is renewed, 3,000 homes will be affected by 3 tons of air pollution every year, especially homes within a mile radius of the concrete batch plant. Also within a mile of the facility are multiple places of worship, schools, parks, hospitals, and Westbury Lake.
The Communities of Willow Waterhole and Westbury are lining up to ask questions to the TCEQ and Martin Marietta about permit conditions
During the public meeting, community members addressed concerns such as TCEQ's willingness to act on air quality issues, permit regulations, and the investigation done on the sight of Martin Maietta’s facility. TCEQ’s response was shocking in regards to how they go about addressing air quality issues. One community member asked, “Where is the air quality monitor located in order to detect the air quality near the facilities?” The nearest air monitor is in Deer Park, Texas, which is about 35 to 45 minutes away from the Martin Marietta facility and other surrounding concrete batch plants. Another issue that raised eyebrows was the permit regulation. Martin Marietta has had ownership of this particular concrete batch since 2008. During their ownership, there has been one violation in 2008 but was not health-related, but concerning machinery issues. When it comes to violations, it doesn’t address having an air quality monitor at the exact location of the facility. Actually, facility owners are not investigated by TCEQ unless the facility air quality is “unsatisfactory”. Based on the information previously given, it is difficult for the facility at Martin Marietta to meet “unsatisfactory” if the air quality monitor is 40 minutes away.
“$$$We pay for your broken concrete$$$”. A sign is located across the street of “Iglesia Evangélica Nuevo Amanecer”
Another concern mentioned is, “How do [communities of Westbury and Willow Waterhole] report issues concerning the air quality in their neighborhood?” TCEQ suggests community members file a complaint by calling them or the City of Houston and filing an environmental complaint. Air Alliance Government Relations and Community Outreach Director, Leticia
Gutierrez mentioned Senate Bill 471. This bill states that if a residence makes 3 complaints, then TCEQ can ignore the complaint or label them as not important. How can community members express their concerns to TCEQ if they’re not going to fully listen and comply?
“Protect Us, Not Industry!” - Leticia Gutierrez
Communities should have a voice and choice on what is happening in their community, especially when it pertains to issues concerning their environment. Environmental agencies such as TCEQ should be the voice when communities are not able to speak about issues concerning their air quality. If you would like to know more about the Martin Marietta Air Permit renewal at the Willow Waterhole, visit the TCEQ Agency and Deliberation page for more information.
Photos by Aiyana Baptiste.