(Seguin) -- After a seven year long process, the TCEQ has officially approved the permit for the future construction of the Post Oak Clean Green Landfill. The permit was approved Wednesday morning in Austin by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The approval was for a Type I Municipal Solid Waste permit. The disposal facility is being planned at 7787 FM 1150, approximately 12.1 miles east of Seguin just south of Interstate 10.
The permit process and public participation portion of this landfill, however, has been a long drawn out battle between owners of Post Oak and various municipalities and entities in Guadalupe County including the city of Seguin.
Seguin Mayor Don Keil, who was among those in attendance at Wednesday's hearing, says he is obviously very disappointed in this latest action by the TCEQ. He says the city has protested the landfill -- a landfill he says threatens the groundwater resources of the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer. Officials say the landfill would sit in a sensitive recharge zone of the aquifer which threatens area drinking water for all local residents.
"We are disappointed. We are very disappointed but people are just going to have to make sure that they are aware of things as far as what's going on with their state agencies. What has happened now is that the state of Texas has officially declared that our drinking water is safe. That we have nothing to worry about. So I will assure that everybody in the state knows that they are accountable for all the drinking water but we are just not guaranteed that so I think that needs to be said. But on the other hand, it's too early to say exactly what actions we will take," said Keil.
In addition to the alleged threat to groundwater resources, Keil says the city was opposed to the landfill in support of the Randolph Air Force Base Auxiliary Field located on the city's east side off of Highway 90A. He says the landfill threatens the safety of Air Force pilots by creating a significant risk of bird strikes. He says landfills are known for attracting large birds to the area.
Sharing a 10 minute window of protest with Keil during the hearing were Guadalupe County Commissioner Greg Seidenberger and State Representative John Kuempel plus representatives from the offices of U.S. Congressman Vicente Gonzalez and Senator Judith Zaffarini. Keil says it was obvious that the TCEQ did not care to hear their arguments.
"People like me or from Congressman Gonzalez or from Representative Kuempel or from Zaffarini, that didn't make a hoot. That didn't even resound with them at all. They were there to make sure that the permit was property done which we feel, in my opinion, that it was not," said Keil.
Keil says he is not only disappointed, but frustrated by the process. He says the state agency clearly did not consider the years of protest aired by nearly 99 percent of elected officials in Guadalupe County. As for its next step, Keil says he can't say for sure whether the city will seek to surrender this fight.
"It might not be the end of it. I don't know. We will have to consult with our council and get some legal advice as to where we can go from here. I know there's probably some appeals that we can still go through but I really can't say what that might be at this time," said Keil.
Also voicing his disappointment is Guadalupe County Judge Kyle Kutscher. Kutscher says the landfill brings along even other problems for those living in and around its future location.
"I know for those residents that are living in that immediate area, they are going to have to deal with other issues that affect them with traffic, noise and smells and all those things and I'm sorry that they will have to deal with that if this moves forward. As far as an appeal or some other alteration of the determination made by the TCEQ today -- I think that's probably a long shot. I'm not saying that that can't happen but we as a county have to go back with our partners and reassess where we are at now and try to gauge and waive the likelihood if an appeal would be beneficial or would it just be a waste of time and money and at this point, it almost looks like it's a done deal but again, I'm not sure at this point," said Kutscher.
According to its application overview, the landfill would encompass 1,003 acres of which 331 acres would be designated as the waste disposal area. The waste disposal unit would also not be able to reach a maximum permitted height of 692 feet above sea level.
According to the company's website and during statements made in the past to the Seguin Daily News, Post Oak officials were not concerned about potential threats to area water resources. They stated that "Municipal Solid Waste Landfills must be designed with a composite liner made of synthetic material covering a two foot clay liner." They also stated that once the landfill is closed, "the owner/operator is responsible for maintaining the final cover, monitoring groundwater and methane gas, and continuing leachate management for 30 years."
In constructing the landfill, the company has also committed to assuming the role of serving as a "Center for Environmental Studies and Wildlife Management."
It says it wants to serve as an organization focused on educating the public about issues related to the "management and environmental balance between processing our solid waste streams and maintaining a healthy Texas wildlife."