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TXI, Holcim applying for new permits

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Citizens, environmental groups angered
JOEY DAUBEN
The Ellis County Press
MIDLOTHIAN - Texas Industries is applying for permits to burn tires in its cement kilns, angering many area residents and environmental groups. Also upsetting citizens is the fact Holcim is seeking a proposed amendment to its state air-quality permit.
Midlothian resident Sue Pope said Holcim has failed to live up to its commitment to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, county residents and 'downwinders' living in Dallas and Tarrant counties.

However, many of the southern Dallas County and western Ellis County residents moved to the area after some plants were already built.

TXI, Chaparral Steel, North Texas Cement and Holcim all make up an industrial strip along Highway 67 in Midlothian. Holcim, formerly Holnam, proposed expanding their plant in 1998, citing a new technology that they could both increase production while decreasing emissions.

However, citizens and local environmental groups at the time said the new methods weren't feasible and would actually result in emission increases. Holcim officials said they failed to meet some of the emission reduction targets, but blamed new state-mandated technology because of the failure. Katy Hubener, executive director for the Blue Skies Alliance, said emissions won't be reduced with the new permits, and instead would increase the chances of children becoming sick.

Toxic chemicals being emitted from many of the cement kilns have been known to cause cancer, asthma and other effects, according to Hubener and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Because it violated the agreement, the state slapped a $225,000 fine on the company, as well as a 545-day ultimatum to come into compliance.

Cement plant neighbor TXI is currently in the process of going through a testing program to allow for the burning of tires, according to spokesman Maurice Osborne, also an ex-mayor of Midlothian. 'We're not applying for, nor have we asked for [an] increase in emissions,' he said. 'We have been working to reduce emissions.'

According to an August agreement between the plant and TCEQ, TXI has an option to burn tires using the new technology, but must go before the state first. TCEQ representative Keri Rowland said TCEQ commissioners, who will meet Dec. 5 in Arlington with area residents to discuss the measure, must adopt the rule first.

TXI could get an added boost from the TCEQ though; former TXI lobbyist Ralph Marquez is one of the commissioners.


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