An NT music faculty member is leading a charge with fellow Denton citizens to force Acme Brick to reexamine its “business as usual” attitude.
Acme’s Denton manufacturing plant on Fort Worth Drive has applied to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for renewal of their air quality permit, which associate professor Ed Soph contends the company doesn’t deserve. “Acme Brick is a major polluter,” he said.
Acme Brick did not respond to requests for interviews. At the Denton City Council’s Tuesday meeting, Soph read a 2001 Environmental Protection Agency toxic release report which said the plant emitted 158,000 pounds of hazardous air pollutants. This figure indicates a 31,500-percent increase of toxic waste from the 500 pounds the EPA reported 10 years earlier, or a yearly increase of 177 percent.
Reports are released every two years.
The major portion of hazardous waste was in the form of hydrogen fluoride — a chemical that the EPA reports may cause lung, liver, kidney and pregnancy complications. The EPA said Acme Brick’s emissions are well above acceptable levels.
The city council, in response to these concerns, ordered an investigation and requested a hearing before the TCEQ in Austin. Denton city councilman Bob Montgomery also asked Acme’s environmental manager to provide the city with detailed data in light of the EPA report.
Montgomery, however, contested the accuracy of the EPA’s results. “I want the right numbers,” he said.
Montgomery said if he thought the EPA figures were correct, he’d “be out there with a hammer and tongs to bring them down.” Area residents say Acme is not complying with federal regulations established by the 1990 Clean Air Act.
Under section IV of Acme’s TCEQ permit application, the company acknowledged that it was not in compliance with federal regulations.
Acme contends that the Denton plant was “grandfathered” into the state’s environmental policy which, they say, exempts them from more stringent federal law.
Residents pointed out that Acme, in describing to the TCEQ its one-mile “affected zone,” submitted a 30-year-old map, which failed to show significant growth in Denton, including new neighborhoods, apartment complexes, two public schools and future NT softball fields.
Soph said if Acme’s permit is renewed, or without intervention by state or local authorities, the plant would continue to harm the environment.
“The city has the power, but no policies to monitor air pollution,” said Soph, who lives within the “affected zone.” Montgomery said a middle ground must be found to resolve the situation.
“Acme Brick has been a valuable member of this community for over 100 years,” he said. “However, I don’t want people in the surrounding neighborhoods to be frightened to live there.” Soph agreed, saying Acme Brick should take greater responsibility.
“Just because they’ve been here for so long, doesn’t give them a right to pollute,” he said.
Acme Brick will continue operating according to its current air quality permit until a hearing can take place or the matter is resolved. The city expects to hear from the TCEQ by the end of October whether there will be a hearing scheduled.