AUSTIN, Texas —After a contested case hearing this past summer, Austin judges issued a recommendation to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to approve an air quality permit for a proposed rock-crushing Quarry that would be located in the Hill Country.
- Residents are worried about quarry location
- Judge said Vulcan Materials “Met its burden of proof”
- Opposition group will continue to fight
The recommendation is a step in the right direction for Vulcan Materials, the nation's largest producer of construction aggregate like crushed stone and gravel. Judges determined the company "met its burden of proof" and recommended TCEQ approve the draft permit. For residents in the area, it's a crushing blow.
“The fight is clearly not over, this is not a done deal yet,” David Drewa director of communications for Stop 3009 Vulcan Quarry said. "We now go on to the next steps in the process and we'll continue to fight to protect the natural resources of the Hill Country and to protect the health of our families."
The proposed site is located between New Braunfels and Bulverde, at Highway 46 and FM 3009. The company said it will control the dust with water and have a buffer zone of 600 non-mining acres.
Milann Guckian has been fighting this proposed quarry for two years with Stop 3009 Vulcan Quarry. She chose to live nestled in the Hill Country, and doesn’t welcome the company of a quarry so close to her home.
“We love this area. If I had known about this, no, I would not be here," Guckian said. “Where we pick our next location, we’re going to have to check to make sure what’s surrounding us.”
Guckian and Drewa advise those looking to move to the area to do their research.
"People who have just recently bought bought a property are now regretting it. People who were considering buying a property in the area are now deciding against it. So it's a big deal,” Drewa said. “You know, people don't want to live next to a 1500-acre industrial facility whose permit allows 24/7 mining and blasting. There are 12,000 people who live in this area, probably over 12,000 people who live in this area, who are going to be affected by this facility. It's just not the right location for a quarry like this."
"If the people that are buying across the street had just taken a drive down 46 or taken a drive down FM 3009 and just looked at the signs that say Stop 3009 vulcan quarry, maybe they would have stopped and asked the question of 'What is that? What is it about?' You have to do your due diligence," Guckian said.
If TCEQ approves the air-quality permit, the next step for Vulcan will be getting a water pollution abatement plan approved.
“They're required to submit a water pollution abatement plan, since this facility would be located entirely over the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone," Drewa said.
"It's kind of ironic to me that you see all these signs that say, you know, 'entering an environmentally sensitive area,' the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone, but they allow mining right on top of it," Guckian said. "With them blasting and tearing into the karst, which is what that formation is, it's like a funnel straight into our aquifers. And these aquifers feed the drinking water to this whole area."
Once submitted, Drewa and Guckian will review the plan to see if it contains adequate protection for water supply and water quality.
"That's an issue that should interest people in San Antonio as well since the Edwards Aquifer is the primary drinking water source for over 1.7 million people there," Drewa said.
Vulcan Materials released a statement to Spectrum News after the State Office of Administrative Hearings administrative law judges Rebecca Smith and Victor Simonds delivered their recommendations:
“We are pleased with the recommendation from Judges Smith and Simonds that TCEQ approve the draft air permit issued for our proposed facility in Comal County,” said Vulcan spokesperson Scott Burnham. “We have presented a responsible plan for this site that shows we’re committed to the county and doing things the right way. We look forward to the next steps in the process and working with our neighbors and the community.”