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an open cell. Only one of the forty cells planned will be active at a given time. Other precautions include a plastic liner under the aggregate, double layers of compacted clay and the natural Beaumont Clay Formation. As the material cures in the open cells, some of the toxic leachate is washed through the aggregate by rainfall, to be collected in concrete sumps and disposed of in an injection well. Some of the material produced by the process can be “de-listed,” but Joeris admits that because of the diverse nature of the wastes, which will include orgnic and non-organic solids, sludges, and liquids, it is not likely that anything will be “recycled” for use as roadbase or fill material. Joeris describes a system of redundant safety features and explains that the facility design surpasses recently drafted EPA guidelines. “There is no such thing as a perfect site,” explains Joeris, “but this is as close to it as anything I’ve ever seen.” And all of the design features are subject to agency revision during a long series of meetings and hearings required by the permit process. It is Texas’ demanding permit requirements and process that Joeris believes protects the public interest and guarantees site and facility suitability. It will cost Envirosafe more than one million dollars to get the site permitted. Flood-Prone Minta Theriot lives some three miles from Joeris’ Devers office, two miles east on highway 90, then north on a mile-long sand road that twists through stands of oaks and pines, then through a marshy stretch, before it breaks into a clearing of several hundred acres. There sits the Theriot home and the home of her parents Kenneth and Maurine Ray. Theriot, 44, is still described by some older residents of Devers as “a real smart girl who finished at the top of her class in nursing school.” Seated at her dining room table, she adjusts her reading glasses and surveys files, topographical maps, and notebooks. She also has a story to tell: not all of her facts, and even fewer of her conclusions, are in agreement with what Joeris and the Maxwells are trying to present to the public. Theriot’s most compelling argument concerns the regulatory agencies. Why, she asks, should anyone who lives in or around Devers, or downstream from the site, feel secure with their physical wellbeing in the hands of the Texas Depart Good books in every field JENKINS PUBLISHING CO. The Pemberton Press John H. Jenkins, Publisher Box 2085 \(S Austin 78768 ment of Water Resources and the federal Environmental Protection Agency? “The regulatory agencies failed in the East Texas road-oil case. If you ask them about monitoring [she has], you’ll discover that the companies do most of their own monitoring. When you tell me that a regulatory agency will protect us, I don’t accept it.” Joeris argues that his company is being judged by past performance of many “slop-pit” operators and that newly drafted EPA guidelines preclude the permitting of even marginal operators. Theriot and other local opponents remain skeptical. As Theriot sees it, the TDWR should be regulating what they permit: “The company representatives go to Austin and meet with agency representatives who advise them and actually draft the permit. If the state is so short of time for regulation, why should they provide the companies with a consulting service? The agencies issue the permits and leave the companies to monitor their operations,” she adds. Captive regulatory agencies are standard fare in most government texts but a captive permit agency might be a horse of a different color. Theriot claims that TDWR has never flatly rejected an applicant who has begun the permit process. The agency cannot deny the claim. According to their office of public infor “They’re not disposing waste, they’re storing it.” mation, no records are kept on the number of applicants and the final disposition of permits. They will say that over the past five years, three or four Class I permits have probably been denied. The process, they add, discourages unqualified applicants, and it is not unusual for applicants to withdraw their application early when they see the handwriting on the wall. Theriot also raises the issue of flooding. She produces a topographical ‘map that illustrates that the land between her property, the Envirosafe site, and Willow Creek drops about ten feet in elevation. She concedes that she is neither a hydrologist nor a geologist, but she has lived on the site since she was a child. The Maxwells, although they have lived in the area for several generations, acquired the 585 acre site several years ago. Land, Theriot, and local farmers, including Sidney Hill, from whom the property was purchased, argue that it is flood-prone. Theriot quotes, by volume and page, from the Envirosafe permit application: “For the Willow Creek Drainage Basin, no specific data exists which defines the 100-year flood plain.” Joeris has argued that the specific data that opponents are demanding is available on less than two percent of the land in the U.S., land where high density population or heavy industrial development is anticipated. According to the HUD maps displayed in his office, the 100-year flood plain is close to, but does not encroach on, the site. Theriot believes that the Maxwells were “taken in” by Envirosafe. Her family and David Maxwell attend the same church in Devers. She believes that as long as the site is active Envirosafe and the Maxwells will assure its safe operation. The projected life of the site is 20 years. Theriot’s concern is for what will happen to the site 50 years from now. She argues, requirements notwithstanding, that “it is silly to believe that the company will continue to monitor the site for 20 years after it is closed and sealed. “Do you know,” Theriot asks rhetorically, “that they are going to put some material directly into the landfill? According to their permit, dry solids will go from the truck into the landfill. If their treatment process is as important as they say it is, why don’t they process all toxic material?” Theriot has learned from local Class I plant managers and the TDWR office at Deer Park that waste volume is down and existing sites will not be filled for years. She argues that the legislature should take advantage of a depression in the industry to consider alternatives to landfills. “Each of those cells,” she observes, “is the size of six football fields, and, there will be 40 cells. They’re not disposing waste, they’re storing it.” Waste Legislation Envirosafe executives back in Horsham, Pennsylvania, might now be questioning the wisdom of launching into the permit process for a Class I waste disposal site during an election year in Texas. Mark Stiles, now the freshman Democratic representative for the 21st District, set the tone early in his campaign, coming out in unequivocal opposition to the location of toxic waste dumps in largely agricultural southern Liberty County. Thenceforth, every candidate who stumped through the county got square with his audience, not by stating his opposition, but by describing the magnitude of his opposition to toxic waste dumps. While most candidates stressed the THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11