The cost of the dam dump
Secret government maps detail the scary result if an earthen dam in Caldwell County ever breaches.
The projected possible death toll – 318 people.
The maps were obtained by Dolcefino Consulting as part of our widening investigation of Site 21, and the warnings that putting a 17-storey garbage dump next to it has serious risks to life and property.
The TCEQ has approved a permit for the 130-dump operated by controversial trash firm Green Group, ignoring warnings from even the agency own public watchdog the dump next to the dam spells trouble.
The fear is that garbage will blow in and block a critical pipe which helps relieve pressure in flood events.
“In coming days, we will continue to expose what the politicians haven’t told the families at greatest risk”, says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting, the Houston based investigative communications firm that helped defeat another proposed Green Group dump in Waller County near Hempstead. “You don’t have to be an engineer to understand the dumpsite creates a potential danger that voters in Caldwell County have just not been warned about.”
Site 21 is one of 1,364 high hazard dumps in Texas. We have learned TCEQ Commissioners never consulted its own Dam Safety Engineers before approving the Green Group permit.
There are increasing questions the agency set up to protect our environment failed to take Site 21 seriously enough. The last inspection by TCEQ dam safety engineers was in July 2014, three years before the dump was approved.
Also frightening, documents obtained by Dolcefino Consulting show the dam safety program waited a year to even send the results of the inspection to the folks who manage Site 21, the Plum Creek Conservation District. We also know Plum Creek never even responded to State Dam Safety Officials.
The secret government maps are considered a Homeland Security Secret, and we found residents along Alamo Drive who didn’t even know they lived closely downstream from the dam.
“I mean the trash is going to get infected with the water and it is just going to mess up everything for us out here,” said Felix Christian, who lives in the neighborhood south of the dam. “It is going to make us move from a property that we have built up and that we have paid for a minute now and you know we can’t afford that, we can’t afford to go somewhere else and to move on.”
Felix Christian says his neighbors are worried about the dump and what it will do to health and safety. His grandparents built the home he now shares with them.
“Whoever is trying to run the trash, whoever it is, it is not a healthy choice for anybody out there,” said Christian.
Opponents of the dump say the maps show the deadly consequences of the warnings they have been making.
“I was really disappointed in them not even discussing the high hazard dam,” said Frank Shugrue, a longtime opponent of Green Group’s plan. “I mean you heard it there. If it fails, there are lives at stake. And they are going to allow a permit that puts in a landfill upstream of this high hazard dam Site 21 is now being renovated just to come up to the high hazard standards.”
“It is not too late for the TCEQ to rethink this,” says Dolcefino. “The proposed 130 dump is next to a floodplain, virtually on top of an aquifer, and next door to the dam that if breached will inundate thousands of people. Why would the state be willing to take that chance. If something goes wrong, there will be outrage and serous financial consequences.”
Plum Creek Conservation District has the power to block the dump but took a neutral position in the permit fight. The members are appointed by the Caldwell County Commissioners Court, which has voted to stop the legal fight, and offer concessions to Green Group without getting any more environmental protections in return
Stay tuned. We follow the e-mail trail. What we found raises serious questions about Plum Creek’s maintainer of the dam
We have seen troubling e-mails that What we have discovered raises serious questions about Plum Creeks maintenance of the dam.
“The public has been kept in the dark for months by Commissioners Court about the Green Group dump”, says Dolcefino. “It is time for a public hearing to tell people the truth about the potential danger. Anything else is unacceptable. Caldwell County voters elect a new court in November.”