TEXAS: Built Concrete Tough
On your commute to work you may notice a new concrete mixing facility ‘blooming’ on the side of the highway. Although it seems like these facilities get put up overnight, they actually require a bit of planning and environmental permitting.
What is a concrete batch plant?
Concrete batch plants, some known as ‘ready-mix’ plants, blend various ingredients such as sand, gravel, cement and water, in order to form concrete. Most ready-mix plants are of similar design, and utilize cement storage silos, screw conveyors, hoppers and mixers. The finished mix is transferred to a truck, where it continues to be mixed as it is transported to the job site. These plants are usually located close to the projects that they service.
So, why do you need an environmental permit?
Ready-mix plants generate dust, or particulate matter, primarily from loading and unloading Portland cement. The Clean Air Act of 1970 identified particulate matter as a pollutant of concern, or “criteria pollutant”. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has a Concrete Batch Plant Standard Permit, which covers plants which operate under certain conditions such as utilizing suction shrouds and baghouse filters to control particulate emissions.
Water discharges, which may end up in a stream or river, are also a concern for these plants. The TCEQ has a Texas Pollutant Discharge and Elimination System (TPDES) General Permit which covers wastewater and stormwater discharges associated with these facilities. Permit conditions include having structural controls in place to control drainage (ponds or barriers/buffers), pollution monitoring, and a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWP3).
And, the paperwork never ends….
Operators of these facilities must comply with both general and specific conditions of their permits, to include testing, record-keeping and reporting. For instance, the stormwater permit requires the collection and processing of water discharge samples, to measure total suspended solids, oil and grease, and pH, among other parameters. Pretty easy stuff right?