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Still fighting the Waller County landfill

I’ve written before about a battle in Waller County over a proposed landfill that would be built there. While the landfill has moved closer to being approved, it’s not yet a done deal, and its opponents are still fighting against it.

“This landfill has done more to divide our county than anything I’ve ever seen. It breaks my heart,” said Waller County Judge Glenn Beckendorff.

Those opposing the proposed Pintail landfill have so far sent a near record 6,000 emails and letters to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, urging the agency to deny the permit.

But Green Group Holdings President Ernest Kaufmann contends the protest typifies the “not in my backyard” syndrome that happens whenever his company tries to put in a new landfill.

“Unfortunately, it’s the same argument that you hear wherever you go. It’s always about the groundwater and the smell,” he said. “But our landfills are engineered to be very safe.”

Waller County, which currently has no operating landfills within its borders, transports its waste to Harris, Fort Bend and other counties.

Kaufmann said the landfill is needed to meet needs of the community. “Growth in Waller County and the surrounding area is inevitable,” he said.

According to state records, the proposed landfill will be about 17 percent larger than the average landfill in Texas.

Pintail’s application estimates 161 vehicles a day will haul about 429,000 tons of garbage – none coming from outside the state – to its site each year. That number is expected to grow to 292 vehicles a day once the landfill is fully established, the application states.

The disposal area would be confined to 223 acres with other acreage used as a buffer or a potential industrial park.

Eventually, over decades, a mountain of waste would be dumped there. It will rise roughly 150 feet, or as tall as a 15-story building. Only about 5 percent will come from Waller County.

Boy, I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want that in their backyard. Opponents of the landfill cite factors such as water contamination and discouraging other development in the county; the proposed site is off Highway 6, not far from Prairie View A&M. While these are very valid concerns, I think building giant new landfills anywhere is a bad idea. Frankly, it’s not clear to me that the demand will be there for this landfill, what with cities seeking to reduce the amount of waste they generate, and the amount they have to spend on things like landfill space. Landfills are yesterday’s solution, not tomorrow’s. As much as anything I’d be worried about being stuck with an albatross. I hope the folks who are asking the TCEQ to deny the permit have some luck getting through to them on this.

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3 Comments

  1. Ross says:

    Reduce waste? You don’t spend much time in the less affluent parts of town. The amount of waste generated there appears much larger than what I see in the Heights and other well off areas. Especially on heavy trash days. I’m not sure why this is the case, unless it’s due to larger family sizes, lack of interest in recycling, or something totally off the wall.

    I also hope the City of Houston gets off this idiotic biodegradable bag kick. 80 cents apiece for bags? Taxpayers are getting ripped off. It would be far less costly in a macro sense to go back to the days when the city employees just ripped open the regular bags of grass and leaves.

  2. JoanneM says:

    I agree with your thoughts on not needing this landfill. This applicant, Green Group Holdings, would no doubt become creative to make a profit and consider what they do in their currently owned and operated landfill in Uniontown, Alabama, and accept lovely things like coal ash. This landfill must be stopped!!

  3. Mary D says:

    There is no need for ths landfill. Waller county had 7 closed landfills. It’s not like we have no landfills. Our county officials have fallen hook line and sinker for Green Groups’s tale and have no doubt been involved in things that are not necessarily open and above board. It’s a sad state when county officials do not listen to the public. The overwhelming public opinion is this landfill should be stopped.

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