Energy & Environment

Harris County Attorney threatens lawsuit to block construction of concrete crushing plant near LBJ Hospital

County Attorney Christian Menefee said he would first seek to have the TCEQ revoke its permit to Texas Coastal Materials, but he said that move would most likely not succeed.

Christian Menefee
Courtesy Photo
Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee.

State environmental officials have approved the permit for a new concrete crushing plant close to Houston's LBJ Hospital. Harris County will appeal to block the plant's construction.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality granted the permit Thursday to Texas Coastal Materials, over the objections of residents and hospital officials concerned about air pollution.

Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee called the TCEQ's decision a travesty. "Just yesterday," he said, "the Carverdale community was celebrating, with me and Mayor Whitmire, about Waste Management withdrawing their application to expand a landfill in that historically Black community. So, that's a group of folks celebrating a rare win in the environmental justice movement. And less than 24 hours later, here we are having to gear up for another fight in another predominantly African American and Latino community."

Menefee said that emissions from concrete crushing facilities can cause cardiovascular and respiratory problems, endangering patients at the hospital who are already immunocompromised because of issues ranging from trauma to cancer. "Not to mention that these neighborhoods are already inundated with concrete batch plants, which are similar facilities that have similar types of pollution."

Menefee said he'll be filing a motion to overturn the TCEQ's decision, in cooperation with Lone Star Legal Aid and the office of State Senator Boris Miles.

"That motion is filed with the TCEQ commissioners," Menefee said. "These are direct appointees of Governor Abbott. We don't expect that that's going to be granted, given who we're dealing with, and so the next step is we'll be working with Harris Health to explore the possibility of filing a lawsuit."

Menefee said he expects to see movement on the case in the next 60 to 90 days.

"This is going to be about ensuring that people who live there and who are going to be walking in and out of this hospital have access to clean air and aren't going to go to get their health issues fixed, and while they're there, have to continue suffering with increased pollution and even more health risks, as a result of it," he said.