AUSTIN, Texas - Homeowners in a Lower Valley neighborhood near the Old Ysleta Mission are claiming a victory now that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) denied a proposed medical waste facility permission to operate.
Commissioners with TCEQ held a public hearing Wednesday morning to hear from both sides of the issue.
City representative, Claudia Ordaz-Perez, was joined by husband, and county commissioner, Vince Perez to argue against permits for the waste facility to open.
The building where the proposed facility would be housed is adjacent to neighborhood where the Perez couple live.
Joining them was State Representative Cesar Blanco, who also spoke against giving MedCare, the medical company which would run the facility.
However, TCEQ commissioners told the owner of the medical waste facility and his lawyers that they can appeal the decision. Local state legislators said they are researching whether that is the case.
The first item on the commission's meeting agenda was to make a determination on whether MedCare Environmental Solutions, Inc. will be granted state approval to operate the controversial medical waste treatment plant.
The decision has pitted the executive director of the commission, who supports the application, against numerous local officials in opposition including: State Senator Jose Rodriquez, State Representative Cesar Blanco, El Paso County Commissioner Vince Perez, El City Council Representative Claudia Ordaz Perez, and the Ysleta Independent School District's Board of Trustees.
The company would process 100,000 pounds of medical waste per day at the facility it seeks to open at 9119 Billy The Kid Street, which is located near the intersection of North Loop and Zaragoza.
“The prospect of 100,000 pounds of medical waste per day including discarded organs, limbs, and blood coming into a densely populated community is unacceptable,” County Commissioner Vince Perez said in a statement on the eve of the hearing. “This has been an incredibly difficult fight, and it seemed like a forgone conclusion that this facility was going to get permission to locate here, despite the opposition to it. But the community never gave up, and we are determined to win this fight.”
Opponents maintain that over 6,500 homes are located within a one-mile radius of the proposed facility, and Perez has noted that the vast majority of medical waste facilities in Texas are located in industrial areas, not residential ones.
“For over a year, our community has come together through the thousands of petitions submitted and many formal motions to the state opposing this medical waste facility,” added City Representative Ordaz Perez. “We hope the TCEQ Commissioners will see that this facility does not belong in Mission Valley surrounded by thousands of residents, schools, churches, and parks.”