Town halls to address rock-crushing and sand-mining operations

Rock crushers

Aggregate mining involves removing stone or sand and crushing it into different granular sizes for use in everything from construction to cosmetics. iStock image

Blasting, industrial noise, and clouds of sand are all issues people cite regarding rock crushers, gravel producers, and bulk sand-handling operations that fall under the umbrella of Aggregate Production Operations (APOs). 

State Rep. Terry Wilson, a member of the House Interim Study Committee on Aggregate Production Operations, is hosting a series of informal online town halls regarding APO issues next week that will feature industry, academic, and state agency experts. 

“As Texas continues to grow, so does the need for APOs to produce the concrete that builds our homes, businesses, and the infrastructure connecting them,” Wilson said in a media release. “However, as the APOs have sought out new deposits to utilize, their expansion and the expansion of our cities and communities have become increasingly in conflict.”

The first town hall, which will examine the economic impact of APOs, is 9 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 29. The second event on environmental, health, and infrastructure impacts takes place at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 30. The final town hall is 9 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 1, and will hear from members of the public. 

Wilson will post links to the town halls on his Facebook page.

APOs have proven controversial in the Highland Lakes. Save Sandy Creek fought to keep a sand-dredging and refining operation out of the Sandy Creek area before the operator, Collier Materials, moved on. 

Save Lake LBJ formed in July 2020 in response to Collier Materials proposing a different dredging and refining operation — this time without a rock crusher — on a private ranch on CR 309 in Llano County near the Comanche Rancheria community.

“The biggest concern is the amount of truck traffic,” said Taylor Delz, a member of Save Lake LBJ, who has a home within sight of where the proposed refining operation would be. “We’re estimating about a truck — and, when I say a truck, I should say an 18-wheeler loaded with sand — every four minutes up and down Country Road 309, which is extremely rural. Two vehicles can’t pass safely, so you put an 18-wheeler out there, and it’s just not possible.”

In 2018, Double Horn and Spicewood Trails residents protested a proposed rock crusher and quarry that would have taken up approximately 281 acres between the two subdivisions. In addition to public health concerns was the fear that, once quarrying was done, all that would remain would be a hole in the ground because Texas doesn’t have a land reclamation process.

APOs extract stone and sand to produce concrete, landfill, or even sand for traps on golf courses. Some plants even mix concrete and asphalt on site. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality can require air permits.

Environmental and public health impacts cited by Texans for Responsible Aggregate Mining (TRAM) include air quality; depletion of water resources; disturbances from blasts, lights, odors, and noises; and dangerous road conditions for those using roadways not designed for high-volume traffic.

The House APO Committee also will take testimony from the public regarding experiences with APOs through Oct. 30 as part of its report and recommendations to the 87th Texas Legislature. Testimonials may be emailed to jeff.frazier_hc@house.texas.gov.

alex@thepicayune.com 

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