Experts: Batch plant impact to be minimal

Published on Wednesday, 2 October 2013 22:13 - Written by By Dayna Worchel dworchel@tylerpaper.com

A temporary concrete batch plant could be coming to Tyler soon to help build the 80-acre 700,000 square-foot retail development set to open on south Broadway in 2014 — and its’ impact to the environment should be minimal, experts say.

The Dallas-based Potter Ready Mix has applied with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to bring the portable plant to 8922 South Broadway to help build The Village at Cumberland Park shopping center. The public has until Oct. 12 to file complaints, submit questions or request a public hearing, TCEQ Spokeswoman Andrea Morrow said. No one has requested a hearing yet, she said.

An official from Potter Ready Mix and an environmental expert both say the general public will hardly notice any dust the plant generates unless one is standing right there next to the plant.

And there will be an expected economic benefit of 2,000 jobs and millions of dollars in sales tax revenues to the area after the new center is up and running. Although the jobs would mostly be part time, they would be useful for people, such as students, to gain some practical experience, Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce and Tyler Economic Development Council President and CEO Tom Mullins said.

“We have operated these plants in downtown areas, even across the street from car dealerships, and there have been no problems with dust,” Potter Ready Mix Project Manager Matt Sanders said. He said his company has built several of the new Amazon buildings in Texas, including one in San Antonio. “We make sure we don’t hurt anything,” Sanders said. Sanders said there will be dust only on the job site and not a giant cloud hanging over the area.

The temporary plants take about four days to set up and four days to take down. “We leave everything just the way we found it,” Sanders said. The cement will be a powder mix brought in tanker trucks — a very small amount, which is then blown up into a silo and mixed with water and sand, Sanders said. “The only time you will see dust is when a truck fills from the silo,” he said.

The cement trucks will then fill up with a pre-measured amount of cement, which they will take to the construction site, he said. The plant will measure about 10 feet by 50 feet and consist of one silo, which will be pulled by a truck onto the site, he said.

Sanders praised the TCEQ, which “goes above and beyond” in making sure the general public stays informed, their concerns are addressed and that companies comply with federal regulations. He said he is not sure how long the plant will operate.

The portable concrete plants can be more of a nuisance than harmful because they can be dusty and dirty, one expert said. Neil Carman is the Clean Air Program Director for the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club and he worked as a portable concrete plant inspector for the TCEQ for 12 years before coming to the Sierra Club.

“The dust can also be corrosive to the enamel paints on cars, and can eat off the paint,” Carman said. But he added that most of the portable concrete plants operate in areas where few people live. He said the portable concrete plants are for mixing the concrete, not manufacturing it.

Ms. Morrow said if a public official or a “significant” number of people request a public meeting with the Commission, one will be arranged. She said there is no set number of people for what the agency considers significant.

People who may be affected by the location of the proposed plant could file a request with TCEQ commissioners for a contested hearing. The commissioners would then determine if the case would go before an administrative judge for a ruling, Ms. Morrow said.

“The judge would issue a proposal for decision, which commissioners would use in their decision-making process,” she said, adding that commissioners could then either modify or deny the permit for the temporary plant.

Public comments or requests must be submitted electronically atwww.tceq.texas.gov/about/comments.html . For more information about this permit application or the permitting process, call the Public Education Program toll free at 1-800-687-4040.