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Opponents Of Austin Trash Transfer Station Take Their Case To The State

Trucks move trash in the Austin Community Landfill off Highway 290.
Gabriel C. Pérez
The Austin Community Landfill off Highway 290 will be too full to store garbage in about five years, according to its owner.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will hold a public hearing Thursday on a proposal to build a garbage transfer station in North Austin. The project is facing growing opposition from public officials, neighbors and environmental groups.

The Austin Community Landfill off Highway 290 is filling up fast. According to its owner, Waste Management, it will be too full to store garbage in about five years, so it wants to build a way station to bring in garbage from local customers and haul it out to other landfills.

“The need to take out the trash is going to continue, and this transfer station will provide a viable solution for continued waste disposal,” the company said in a media statement on the project.

People who live nearby say that will worsen problems they’re already having with the landfill. For years, they have complained of foul smells, rodents and heavy traffic.

Credit Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT
The neighborhood around the landfill has grown over the past few decades.

But as the landfill has grown, so has the community around it.

“Forty years ago, this landfill was not surrounded by homes on every point of the compass,” state Rep. Celia Israel, who represents the area in the Texas House, told KUT. “We’ve been dealing with horrible fumes. Many of us, on many nights, cannot sit outside.”

Environmental groups have also entered the debate, arguing that the transfer station runs counter to Austin’s goal of becoming a “zero waste” city.

“Building out even more of this trash infrastructure, especially when you’re talking about a company that has not shown any interest in contributing positively to our zero waste goals, is not in the best interest of Austin,” Jeff Jacoby, deputy director of Texas Campaign for the Environment, said.

To build the way station, Waste Management needs to get permits from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The agency will be holding a hearing on the project at 7 p.m. at Bluebonnet Trail Elementary in North Austin.

Mose Buchele focuses on energy and environmental reporting at KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @mosebuchele.
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