The long saga involving the proposed Altair Disposal Services LLC ("Altair") hazardous waste landfill application is finally at an end. Colorado County's lawyers recently received a copy of Altair's Notice of Non-Suit that Altair filed with the Travis County District Court on Jan. 14, 2021.
The non-suit is with prejudice, which means Altair cannot refile the actions.
Altair's non-suit effectively ends Altair's effort to relocate its commercial hazardous waste landfill from Deer Park, Texas (East of Houston) to the property on which the company's long standing municipal waste landfill is located, south of Columbus on State Highway 71.
Altair filed its initial hazardous waste permit application in 2013, and the TCEQ issued its preliminary decision to issue the permit in 2016. Colorado County, Colorado County Conservation District, the Association for a Clean Environment (ACE) led a county-wide coalition to oppose the proposed landfill. The LCRA, Rice Consolidated Independent School District, and Darmor Investments also opposed the permit. That opposition resulted in a December 2018 nine-day contested case hearing, which is basically an administrative trial, before SOAH (the state office of administrative hearings). The two administrative law judges (ALJs) issued a 189-page proposal for decision in May 2019, recommending the permit application be denied. Their recommendation was based on multiple grounds, including the fact that the geology underlying the proposed landfill was unsuitable for the disposal of hazardous waste.
The TCEQ later followed the ALJs' recommendation and denied the proposed permit in September 2019. Altair then appealed the TCEQ's decision by filing a lawsuit in the Travis County District Court in December 2019. Colorado County intervened in the lawsuit on the TCEQ side. Due to COVID and other issues, that lawsuit was quiet for some time until Altair filed the referenced notice of non-suit, which effectively ends Altair’s application. “To help protect the residents of Colorado County should some company attempt a similar project in the future, the Colorado County Commissioners passed an ordinance in June 2019 that requires any new applicant to seek a variance from the County before proceeding,” Colorado County Judge Ty Prause said.
“Special thanks and appreciation also to Senator Kolkhorst, Senator Campbell, Senator Huffman, and Representative Leman for all their time and effort in this long battle to protect our precious resources: underground water, our aquifer, the Colorado River, and the environment in Colorado County,” Prause continued.