Lattimore Materials Corp. applied for an air quality permit for construction of a temporary concrete batch plant at 4243 Singleton Blvd. The property is situated some 370 yards away from Dallas Independent School District’s Eladio R. Martinez Learning Center. The plant itself is about half a mile away from the campus.
According to the permit application, the plant would emit air contaminants including particulate matter including aggregate, cement and road dust.
Debbie Solis has lived in West Dallas and been involved in the community her whole life. Today, she attends community meetings three or four times a week, helping to bring West Dallas’ voice to the table. She leads a crime watch in the area and participates in West Dallas 1, a coalition of neighborhoods in the area. She said the plant will be close to her neighborhood.
“We just don’t trust the system because it’s done West Dallas wrong for generations,” Solis said.
West Dallas is home to a GAF asphalt shingle factory, which is the largest industrial sulfur dioxide polluter in the county, according to the Texas 2019 official emissions inventory. GAF is the lead roofing manufacturer in North America. The West Dallas factory is also the fourth-largest source of industrial particulate matter pollution and the ninth largest source of industrial carbon monoxide. It’s been operating in West Dallas for decades.
On top of GAF, several cement plants operate in the area.
"There’s so many other cement plants," Solis said. "Why are they going to have a temporary cement plant when they have so many already in West Dallas they could go to and get their cement from? That’s being inconsiderate of our community.”
If it were up to the city, Solis said, she trusts they’d be able to stop the batch plant. But since the batch plant is temporary, it didn’t have to go before the plan commission or the City Council. She’s not confident in the neighborhood’s chances at a hearing Monday night in front of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
“We don’t need a cement plant close to our children's school,” Solis said. “They need to think of the community, not about making a buck. We need a voice. We don’t have a voice.”
Kathryn Bazan used to work for the TCEQ. She’s now the co-founder of a community group called East Dallas Greater Good. She’s also the vice chair of the Dallas Sierra Club’s eco action and conservation committee, and works with West Dallas 1’s environmental justice commission.
Anytime there’s a pending permit for a batch plant, a notification has to be made to the public, Bazan explained. Then they have the opportunity to request a public hearing. That’s what West Dallas 1 did with the Lattimore Materials Corp. batch plant. That hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday. The TCEQ takes comments over the phone and submitted online during these hearings to help determine whether or not to grant the permit.
“That permit has already undergone an initial administrative review and found to be complete,” Bazan said. “So, from my perspective, there is not any reason for the agency not to issue this permit. And we don’t have any expectation that they won’t.”
She said it could take the TCEQ several months to issue a decision on the permit. "There’s no public input opportunity," Bazan said. "So, this TCEQ hearing on Monday is really the only opportunity that we have to be heard.”
Bazan said there was an original proposal by Argos USA, another concrete company, to construct a batch plant at this same location. Argos has a permanent batch plant just down the road.
The company withdrew their application, and Bazan said they knew another would be looking to fill the space. “For some context, there is a developer that is proposing a ... warehouse at the property just north of this location,” Bazan said. “That is what this concrete batch plant would be supporting.”
The batch plant is only meant to operate temporarily, but Bazan said that could still be a long time.
“They’re calling it temporary, yes, but the TCEQ is defining temporary as 180 days or as long as the project takes,” Bazan said. “It’s been explained to the residents that this will be a very long, multi-phased project.”
The plant is just southeast of the elementary campus. Around 97% of the students there are either Hispanic or Black, and 99% of those students come from low-income households.
Dallas County leads the North Texas region for childhood asthma-related hospitalizations, and respiratory issues are the leading cause of absenteeism among DISD students. Almost 10% of the DISD population suffers from asthma.
The city has partnered with an air pollution study called Breathe Easy Dallas to find out the root cause of the high asthma rates among DISD children. But Bazan said, “I can tell you there is a direct correlation between particulate matter that’s going to be emitted by this facility and asthma and other respiratory issues.”
"Lattimore Materials Corp. (LMC) is committed to being a good steward of the community, and we believe the proposed portable batch plant will actually reduce pollution,” the company told the Observer by email. “The portable batch plant is an innovative solution that produces concrete directly on the construction site, thereby reducing traffic congestion that would otherwise occur if the concrete were being produced at an offsite location.”
They added, “LMC is proud to produce the concrete that is so critical to the ongoing development of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.”