A proposed limestone rock quarry in Comal County worries some residents who live near the site. They discussed their fear the quarry could compromise air and water quality and heavy trucks could damage roads during a public comment meeting Tuesday night at the New Braunfels convention center, which attracted over 400 people.
Vulcan Materials Company owns a 1,500 acre piece of land near Farm-to-Market 3009 and Highway 46, northwest of New Braunfels. It plans to make it the site of a rock quarry used to mine construction material and employ about 20 people. The company bought the land early last year and applied for permits in the summer.
“It is a facility that will produce stone for all sorts of modern construction: homes, bridges, roads, commercial, hospitals, any time that uses crushed stone,” said Jimmy Fleming, Vulcan’s vice president of permitting. About 50 acres of the site would be mined over the first 10 years.
More than 70 people signed up to speak, and most were against the project.
Sabrina Houser-Amaya is leading an opposition campaign and says 12,000 residents live near the quarry and could be impacted by contaminants in the air, including silica dust.
“So if you live in this community and are breathing this dust for the next 30 years there is an increased likelihood you could end up with silicosis or some kind of silica related health issue,” she said.
But Fleming said silica dust isn’t an environmental issue but can impact employees in the quarry. It’s effects can be mitigated with safety precautions, he said.
“So if you prevent people at work from having a problem then you prevent anyone else from having problems,” he said.
Many speakers said they plan to file contested cases with Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, in which a hearing can be granted at an unspecified date. Meanwhile, Vulcan does not have a timetable when it will start mining the quarry, as it must wait for permitting approval.
Joey Palacios can be reached at Joey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules