WHAT: Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, County Attorney Christian Menefee, state and federal elected officials, and healthcare leaders will ask northeast Houston residents to oppose a company’s pending state permit to build a concrete crushing facility near Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) Hospital. The officials also want the company, Texas Coastal Materials, to withdraw its permit application before the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Concrete crushing facilities break down large chunks of concrete into gravel, leaving the surrounding area susceptible to similar conditions of a concrete batch plant. These plants release into the air pollutants like particulate matter, crystalline silica, and nitrogen oxide. This can cause health issues, including lung and cardiovascular problems, to those who ingest the pollution as well as exacerbate already existing health problems.
WHO: Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis
Harris County Attorney Christian D. Menefee
Dr. Esmaeil Porsa, President and CEO of Harris Health System
U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee
Texas Sen. Borris Miles
Texas Rep. Harold Dutton
Dr. Latrice Babin, Executive Director of Harris County Pollution Control
Desmond Taylor, City of Houston Mayor’s Office
Amy Dinn, Lone Star Legal Aid
WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 5, 12 p.m.
WHERE: LBJ Hospital Parking Lot | 5656 Kelley St., Houston, 77026
Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, County Attorney Christian Menefee, other leaders, and health-care experts on Thursday, Oct. 5, will seek residents’ support to lobby a state agency to deny a company’s pending permit to build a concrete crushing plant near Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital, citing health issues for patients and nearby northeast Houston residents.
Officials and community leaders also are asking the company, Texas Coastal Materials, to withdraw its permit. They also want the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to fix its permitting process to require analysis to ensure that pollution coming from the plants is not harmful to humans.
“Lower-income communities of color in Harris County have borne the brunt of corporate recklessness for far too long,” Commissioner Ellis said. “The painful truth is that polluters count on environmental justice communities and their elected officials not to fight back.
“Their bottom line depends on dumping waste in your backyard, putting pollutants in your water, and, in this case, putting concrete dust in your lungs.”
News of the proposed plant comes about a month before Harris County voters will decide on a $2.5 billion bond measure for Harris Health System that includes expanding LBJ Hospital and making it a Level I trauma center, which is capable of providing total care for every aspect of injury – from prevention through rehabilitation.
In July, Texas Coastal Materials applied with TCEQ for an air quality standard permit to construct the plant, which will break down slabs of broken pavement and other types of concrete at 5875 Kelley St. Neighborhood leaders say they didn’t find out about the application until Air Alliance Houston, a nonprofit environmental justice group, notified them in early September.
The County Attorney’s Office, state Sen. Borris Miles, and state Rep. Harold Dutton had requested a formal public meeting with the TCEQ. The TCEQ granted only an informational meeting, which will take place on Dec. 7.
The TCEQ must receive public comments by the end of that meeting. Officials are encouraging people to visit tceq.texas.gov to submit comments online via TCEQ e-comments and learn more about the upcoming public meeting. Since this will be an informational meeting, the TCEQ will not take oral public comment at this meeting.
Menefee’s office said concrete crushing facilities break down large chunks of concrete into gravel, which leaves the surrounding area susceptible to similar conditions of a concrete batch plant. These plants release pollutants into the air like particulate matter, crystalline silica, and nitrogen oxide. This can cause health issues, including lung and cardiovascular problems, to those who ingest the pollution as well as exacerbate already existing health problems.
“It’s obvious ... that putting a concrete crushing plant and its heavy dust and pollution up the street from a hospital isn’t right and puts patients at risk,” Menefee said. “But this is what happens when our state leaders in Austin prioritize industry over communities. My office is using the tools at our disposal to fight this and will continue to stand up for Harris County’s most vulnerable populations.”
Said Commissioner Ellis: “We face a new low as a concrete batch plant is proposed to be situated across from a county hospital in one of the highest asthma-burdened ZIP codes in Houston. We are committed to rectifying the historical wrongs inflicted on our neighborhoods through policy, legal action, and our protected right to direct action and protest.”