Counting Down to Garbage Time in Waller County

COUNTING DOWN TO GARBAGE TIME IN WALLER COUNTY The fight over the dumping ground proposed for Highway 6 seems to be coming to a head, now that a draft of a state permit has been issued — despite, reports the Houston Chronicle’s Cindy Horswell, “a near record 6,000 emails and letters [sent] to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, urging the agency to deny the permit.” Waller County residents, reports Horswell, have until March 12 to respond to the draft that would allow the proposed 223-acre Pintail landfill north of Hempstead to go ahead; GreenGroup Holdings, which bought the property in 2011, doesn’t seem to have been moved by the residents’ opposition so far: “President Ernest Kaufmann contends the protest typifies the ‘not in my backyard’ syndrome that happens whenever his company tries to put in a new landfill. ‘Unfortunately, it’s the same argument that you hear wherever you go. It’s always about the groundwater and the smell,’ he said. ‘But our landfills are engineered to be very safe.'” [Houston Chronicle ($); previously on Swamplot] Image: GreenGroup Holdings

23 Comment

  • We can fly to Mars, walk on the moon, go zero to 60 mph in 3 seconds, fly over mountains, and talk to anybody on the planet with a device that fits in our pockets…but when it comes to garbage, we’re still just digging holes in the ground.

  • I would be interested in learning whether Ernest Kaufmann has a landfill near his home.

    Also, if you’re hearing “the same argument…wherever you go,” that might be a sign.

    Lastly, while landfills are generally “safe,” there is no 100% guarantee that it will not eventually leak and contaminate groundwater. If I had domestic water well nearby, I would be pissed off, too.

  • Everyone likes it when they trash they throw away just goes “away.” Nobody likes “away” to be anywhere near them, though.

  • Someone deciding to put a mountain of shit in one’s neighbordood might just justify a little NIMBY-ism.

  • Maybe there’s a business opportunity here, for a premium someone may collect trash on demand and dispose of it in a “green” manner approved by hipsters and greeny weenies. Would someone pay more $ for such a service?

  • this is why i make sacrifices to pay a premium to live in town and around rich folks where stuff like this doesn’t happen.

    we all make our choices and should live by them. unfortunately the farther out you go the more freedom others have to make their own choices as well.

  • ” ‘Unfortunately, it’s the same argument that you hear wherever you go. It’s always about the groundwater and the smell,’ he said. ”

    Gee, do you think it might be because there is a smell and groundwater pollution?? What a fool!!!!! His mindset is let’s dump on the “little people.”

  • TO commonsense:

    HELL, YES.

  • @Anse, there’s always incineration, but try getting one of THOSE sited. That is much more difficult.

    Also, all of the activities you mentioned generate waste, some of it hazardous. Hazardous waste landfills are also very difficult to get approved.

  • I know you like to bait people around here, commensense, but do you have to be so lazy about it? You can’t do better than hipsters and greeny weenies?

  • Commonsense, while we’re at it, why waste money on sewerage? We could just dig holes in the ground for toilet water, too. Outhouses for everybody! Because cheeky hipster-ribbing is more fun than, you know, public sanitation. I’m guessing the free marketers look at Mumbai’s open pit sewers and just see…liberty. The sweet, pungent smell of liberty.

  • I don’t understand why there’d be any substantive controversy beyond the predictable NIMBY factions. Waller County is the perfect place for the region’s trash. It’s not very pretty and its sparsely populated. It will be for a very long time. Its perfect.

  • Anse, I’m not against public sanitation or garbage disposal, I’m questioning whether people are willing to pay considerably more to dispose of garbage in a manner to their liking.

  • We all generate trash and it has to go somewhere. Exactly where should we put the region’s trash? In Harris? In Montgomery? In Brazoria? In Chambers? In Fort Bend?

    If I am not mistaken, Brazoria for some time now has been the region’s dumping ground. I vote for either Waller or Chambers. Sparse population and a lot of open land.

  • miss_msry, generally if something is escaping to the atmosphere it won’t be going down too.

    Landfills are very well sealed from anything penetrating down, but they will generate gas from decomposition, which has to go up.

    Large enough landfills can sometimes capture the gas and burn it to produce power.

  • I have a spot where I can drop off aluminum cans for recycling that’s just a couple hundred yards from my house. I still don’t do it. The cans are worth almost nothing. I do more for society by concentrating on things that matter than wasting my time on a few aluminum cans.

  • It seems to me just another of the manifold gifts of gasoline that our trash gets to take a road trip at all, rather than remaining In Our Back Yard.

  • When I was a kid growing up in the country, we burned our garbage in an old oil drum. When the opportunity for trash collection came along, we did not scoff at the monthly fee; we welcomed the service. We Houstonians now allocate a portion of our trash collection fees for recycling, and at least in my GO/OF neighborhood, it’s a very popular service with even the reddest of swaggering red-state Texican residents. I wrote my initial post as a desire to see our methods of disposal advance along a little further, just a little wistful dream that we might see our fair Gulf Coast Prairie as something more than good land for garbage dumps, but maybe I’m wishing for too much. I wonder if that’s what Stephen F. Austin thought while surveying the rich Brazos bottomland, not far from the future city of Houston? Perhaps God spoke to him: “From thy seed I shalt found a nation, a nation that shall go forth into this land that I have chosen for thee, a land of milk and honey and lots of room for thy massive holes, which thou shalt dig and fill with thy refuse, of which thou shalt produce much. Behold.”

  • Finally a topic I know real good. I’ve been to my share of solid waste public meetings and they are usually the exact same. The only folks really upset (and willing to sit through the meetings) are the actual NIMBY folks with adjacent land or along the off-highway portion of the route. To these people I have to say, sorry, that sucks. But, there is nothing that the state can do about it. There is a process for siting, designing, permitting, and operating these facilities. All of them intended to provide the safest possible facility.

    So, for the NIMBY, that sucks. Be proactive and call 713-767-3500, the TCEQ regional office. It’s going to get built you need to complain though anytime there is a smell, windblown debris, or trucks doing stupid stuff.

    Spoon- Any landfill in TX that would generate any appreciable landfill gas has to be capped and the gas managed. Obviously prior to final cover, this isn’t really happening, but these are not going to be a steaming pile of methane.

  • How about sending garbage to an area that already has heavy industry? Houston’s Ship Channel comes to mind. The refineries already generate odors and pollution. What’s a little more? Or maybe make a donut-shaped mountain of garbage surrounding the state jail in Huntsville. If anyone tries to escape, they have to wade through a landfill. OK that second idea probably wouldn’t work, but I’m serious about the first part. Why are these guys always so eager to go off and put their garbage dumps out on ranch land or near residential areas. It was the same story when WCA put a transfer station on what had been a golf course in my area. Can’t they pick places where they’re already surrounded by heavy industry?

  • Landfills go on relatively cheap land a reasonable distance from the city, or source, of the refuse. You can move to Cat Springs or Centerville but you will be a reasonable distance away eventually…
    Future archaeologists will ponder how we 21st-Centurians managed to drown in our own waste

  • @ ZAW: Decent-sized tracts of land that are within smelling-distance of the Houston Ship Channel are actually really expensive by comparison with rural land that’s decades away from the periphery of urban development. It sucks if you’re one of the few people that want to live around there, sure, but its precisely that reason — that you’re one of the few — that a site like this makes a lot of sense both in economic terms and also from a public policy perspective.

    There are active landfills all throughout the Houston area though, including several right up near Shadow Creek Ranch, which was (until recently, as it has run out of land) one of the fastest-growing master-planned communities in the nation. People bitch and moan about stuff like this, but its hard to measure the degree to which these things pose true externalities because people go ahead and buy homes anyway. (Maybe its true, a sucker born every minute; but it’s also true that people that would complain about the taste of tap water would often gladly purchase it in bottled form and drink it, perceive higher quality, and be quite pleased with themselves. Suckerdom cuts both ways.)

    Here’s a map of active landfills from H-GAC:

    And here’s a map of closed landfills:

  • We’ve been living in shadow creek ranch adjacent to this Blue Ridge Mountain landfill for 1.5 yrs now, and IT DOES STINK!!! There is a foul smell that wafts in 1 mile away a couple nights a week, and it leaves a disgusting smell in our house. My pediatrician office called an emergency gas leak last month and had to have the gas company inspect the building for gas, turns out it was the rotten sewage/garbage odor. Unfortunately our real estate agent said nothing of this landfill when we were home searching, as we had just moved to TX from overseas. Luckily we move again in 6 months, but I am sick and concerned for what this landfill is doing to our health…. So many homes and families in this development!