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              Ingram ReadyMix

                 This week, the Texas Toxic Tour takes you to Bulverde Texas, a 
                small town northwest of San Antonio. This is the story of a 
                communities struggle to protect their homes from pollution from 
                a concrete batch mix plant, without the support of the state's 
                environmental agency, the Texas Legislature, and Governor George 
                W. Bush. Be sure to watch this week's video interview featuring 
                Mayor Bob Barton.

              Ingram ReadyMix, Inc.
              In February 1995, Ingram ReadyMix, Inc. filed an application with 
              the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) for a 
              standard exemption from an air quality permit on a proposed 
              concrete batch plant within the rural hill country community of 
              Bulverde. A batch mix plant, which produces concrete by mixing 
              cement and gravel or sand, can emit a large amount of dust and 
              particulate matter into the air. Mayor Barton remembered that 
              people were concerned about possible health problems from the 
              plant; "It's my understanding that the particulate from the cement 
              plants are not toxic. I'm not a toxicologist, but it seems to me 
              that it's toxic if it makes you sick." After conducting a study, 
              Mayor Barton, a retired scientist, and other people in the 
              community decided the particulates emitted by the plant were a 
              substantial health problem, "they are not just a nuisance, those 
              things are deadly… an accumulation of particulates in the lungs of 
              someone that has pulmonary problems like emphysema or heart 
              disease, it can be deadly."
              The Bulverde community, concerned about air and water quality as 
              well as safety hazards caused by traffic in and out of the plant, 
              gathered 1,600 signatures on a petition against the issuance of 
              the standard exemption. Bulverde residents requested and were 
              granted a hearing on the standard exemption. As part of their 
              evidence, the residents conducted their own air dispersion 
              modeling, which supported their claim that the plant would not 
              meet particulate emissions standards and thus the criteria for a 
              standard exemption. Mayor Barton said, "TNRCC allows 400 micro 
              grams per cubic meter of air per one-hour interval…in the case of 
              this concrete batch mix plant we fought…(according to the 
              modeling) this plant which the TNRCC allowed would have in excess 
              of 1200 micro grams per cubic meter." While Bulverde citizens had 
              gone to considerable expense and study to prepare their case, 
              Mayor Barton said they weren't sure of stopping the plant. "TNRCC 
              has been granting the standard exemption for 25 years, and they 
              have absolutely no data to support the granting of them," he 
              added, "A competent researcher accessing the records would be 
              astonished to see how little foundation they have for many of 
              these standard exemptions they have in place."Audio & Video 
                    Listen to the Ingram ReadyMix pollution story
                    Featured on our interview is Bulverde Mayor Bob Barton.
                    • QuickTime 685 KB
                    • QuickTime 
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              The three TNRCC Commissioners listened to the overwhelming 
              evidence of dozens of citizens as well as state and county 
              officials and denied the issuance of a standard exemption. This 
              was the first time citizens had challenged the TNRCC basis for 
              issuing this standard exemption to concrete batch mix plants and 
              As a result of the controversy, in 1996 TNRCC began an evaluation 
              of the standard exemption for concrete batch plants, which 
              included a review of results from more than 100 Computer Air 
              Dispersion Modeling scenarios. It found that most plants would 
              exceed the state regulatory standards--as well as criteria for the 
              standard exemption itself-unless dust and particulate matter from 
              roads were excluded from the modeling. TNRCC never released the 
              report to the public, and a final version of the report was never 
              approved by the Commissioners.
              The following year, Ingram ReadyMix moved just outside the city 
              limits of Bulverde near several schools and applied again for a 
              standard exemption for their concrete batch plant. TNRCC approved 
              the exemption in 1998. Once again, Bulverde residents requested 
              and were granted a hearing on the exemption. In June 1999, 
              Bulverde sent dozens of concerned citizens to the final meeting 
              with the TNRCC Commissioners, who would make a vote on the 
              exemption. The citizens were armed with presentations of data and 
              evidence, including air dispersion modeling which again showed 
              that the plant would pollute more than it was allowed. However, 
              this time around, the new Chairman Robert J. Huston only granted 
              eight minutes of time for the entire delegation of more than 30 
              citizens. The TNRCC Commissioners then summarily approved the 
              issuance of the standard exemption.
              What had changed? During the spring of 1999, the cement industry 
              worked the Texas Legislature to make sure Ingram's defeat would 
              not happen again. The industry pushed through a bill that 
              prohibits the use of independent computer air dispersion modeling 
              in hearings involving concrete batch plants. The bill also 
              prohibits TNRCC from requiring a concrete batch plant which 
              qualifies for the exemption from conducting their own air 
              dispersion modeling before beginning construction. Apparently, the 
              cement industry didn't like either their own or independent 
              modeling because it was showing the industry couldn't meet the 
              standards designed to protect human health. During legislative 
              hearings, TNRCC and industry spokespeople relied on the still 
              unapproved TNRCC study, which specifically excluded emissions from 
              roads in its calculations.
              SB 1298 was signed into law by Governor Bush in the summer of 1999 
              and Ingram ReadyMix is currently operating in Bulverde. "If the 
              Senate Natural Resources Committee and the Legislature as a whole 
              had not approved this prohibition against using air dispersal 
              modeling, on these concrete batch mix plants, citizens would still 
              have a chance." Mayor Barton said. "When you bring some of the 
              deficiencies of the agency, using their own documents; you still 
              can't get any action, it is disappointing." Barton added, "I think 
              the TNRCC is completely neglecting their duty in that area 
              (protecting rural areas from air pollution), they are abdicating 
              to industry…To me as a scientist, it's been a mockery, it really 
              has been."
              Join Texas PEER soon for another stop on the Texas Toxic Tour. 
                Thanks to Texas Center for Policy Studies for help with this 




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