Landfill foes sound off on proposed site
SEGUIN — The meeting was called to discuss land use, but few of those attending had any doubts in their mind about how they didn’t want it to be used.
“This group has pledged to fight this thing with whatever it takes,” said Jim Watts, executive director of the SPOD (Stop Post Oak Dump) organization. “Sooner or later, we’re going to win.”
Some 500 people packed into the Seguin-Guadalupe County Coliseum for a public hearing being conducted by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality on the land-use compatability of a site proposed for the Post Oak Clean Green Inc. Landfill. The site is located about 16 miles east of Seguin.
The meeting featured short presentations by Blackwell Environmental, the group designing the landfill site, and an introduction to the TCEQ staff on-hand, followed by a question-and-answer period and period for formal comment — and plenty of interruptions from hecklers.
Jim Blackwell told the audience the site had been chosen because “the area has been highly used in the past for oil and gas production. Quite frankly, it’s fairly well polluted.
“We expect that the water that leaves the property will be of higher quality than when it comes in,” he added, drawing a first chorus of disagreement from the crowd.
In attempting to portray the area as what he later termed “less than pristine,” Blackwell then showed a series of slides purporting to show illegal dumping on some adjacent properties — drawing several exclamations of anger from the crowd.
“A landfill could only clean up this area,” he said.
“We also have pictures we decided not to bring up at first,” Watts responded during the question-and-answer period, handing a picture to Blackwell also showing a trash pile on a property. “That’s Tom Funderburg’s back yard.”
Funderburg is the owner of the proposed 1,200-acre landfill site.
TCEQ’s Steve Odil attempted to defuse that line of the debate by noting the agency would rule only on whether or not its rules are being followed properly.
“The characterization of the community is not relevant to the review process,” he said.
Odil explained to the audience that the hearing was the first of two possible public hearings. The hearing was conducted to consider Parts I and II of the Post Oak Clean Green Inc. application; a separate hearing will be set for Parts III and IV of the application, which detail the actual design and engineering of the site.
During the formal comment period, Schertz-Seguin Local Government Corp., attorney Patrick Lindner said the SSLGC has the capacity to supply 48,250 households with water, and he questioned why the state would prohibit landfills over the recharge zone of the Edwards Aquifer and not prohibit landfills over the recharge zone of the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifers from which SSLGC draws its water.
Also making comments were Greg Sengleman, general manager of the Gonzales County Underground Water Conservation District, and Ron Naumann, president of the Guadalupe County Groundwater Conservation District. Both Sengleman and Naumann said the boards of their entities had passed resolutions in opposition to the landfill application.
Watts presented the TCEQ representatives with an opposition petition that he said had 1,326 signatures. He said he had more than 400 additional signatures that were not submitted yet because copies had not been made of them.
During the question-and-answer period, many of those speaking raised the question of the location of the site over the recharge zone for the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer.
“I don’t want a dump built over my water!” said Gary Smith.
“Did you all know this landfill sits on top of an underground river that runs clear to South Dakota?” questioned Jerry Culver of Seguin. He noted that the Nixon area, in particular, draws water from the Carrizo aquifer. “Those people are going to be drinking the crap from your landfill.”
Doug Parker, who identified himself as a “retired taxpayer,” said that the area’s prior use as an oil and gas field makes it inapproriate.
“This is just the wrong place for a dump,” he said. “You’re putting this in an area with permeable soil.”
Blackwell responded that most landfills in the state are over various aquifers and that none of the type his firm is designing — sometimes referred to as a “closed-tomb” landfill — have yet been detected leaking.
Blackwell said the landfill is being designed using EPA regulations, and that a line of compacted clay topped by a layer of plastic plus a leachate collection system to collect water within the landfill is designed to prevent any type of leakage into water systems.
“Our faith is in the liner and the leachate system. The landfill can’t leak if there’s no water in it,” he said.
“This is one of the most regulated types of landfills,” TCEQ attorney Steve Shepherd said.
One questioner asked Blackwell if his firm had begun working with the Texas Department of Transportation on improvements to the roadways in the area in anticipation of increased traffic.
“We are working with TxDOT at this time,” Blackwell said. “They’ve made some suggestions for things like turn lanes already.”
Post Oak Clean Green Inc. filed its application in December to establish the landfill on a 1,200-acre tract bounded by Farm Road 1150, Dix Road and Nixon Road. The landfill itself will take up about 350 acres within the property.