We first heard reports from residents on December 30, 2011 that Magnablend was showing interest in purchasing part of the Superconducting Super Collider (SSC) property. Colleen Horning and Aaron Schwaderer at the Waxahachie Daily Light (WDL) published a fair and balanced article on January 4 confirming that Magnablend currently has a contract on the property. In the WDL article, CEO Scott Pendery confirmed that the SSC location is his preferred location for relocation.
In addition to residents quoted in the WDL article, other residents close to the property and more in the community who have already been impacted by the October 3 fire have expressed their concerns to us.
The consensus appears to be that no one can understand why Magnablend is progressing forward with relocation plans prior to completing the cleanup and remediation process at the former location. Residents near the former location still face a daily odor nuisance, sight of what now appears to be a storage facility for waste, and continued health effects caused by the fire and chemical releases.
Rather than focusing on restoring the property, acknowledging resident health problems, and making things right with the community, Pendery and his company prefer to ignore the community and continue business-as-usual.
Other resident complaints expressed to us have been the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) violation notices at the Magnablend Powder Plant. Residents are concerned about Magnablend's failure to adhere to regulations.
Residents have already begun to voice their displeasure via private emails, private messages, and on public forums. Some of these comments can be read on the following two Facebook pages. We encourage you to participate. Community concern has been increasing and more residents are realizing the need to unite, speak up, and be heard.
Magnablend Waxahachie: *Community Right To Know*
The WDL article quotes Pendery trying to justify the failure to adhere to permits as experiencing growing pains and being in the process of getting requirements up to speed when the fire occurred.
His attempted justification gives us more reason to oppose Magnablend's plans to relocate to the SSC location. If growth is more important to the company than ensuring compliance with state laws, then they have no business operating in our community or in our state.
Another concern for us is that the TCEQ investigation into the fire has not been completed yet and is not expected to be completed until April. We believe the correct approach would be to wait for the TCEQ report to get a handle on lessons learned. We also believe that relocation plans should be on hold until the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) has a chance to conduct an investigation.
We do not believe Magnablend has had adequate time to fully assess or realize lessons learned. Lessons learned are often not realized until full investigations have been performed and completed. One lesson learned that we see immediately is the inability for Magnablend to clean up and remediate the Hwy 287 property in a timely manner. That should be the company's primary focus.
How can Magnablend recognize much needed lessons learned when they have not completed the clean up process? Part of emergency planning is prevention of accidents, which we believe Magnablend has learned something from, but we also believe cleanup and remediation is just as, if not more, important, which they have failed to complete.
Pendery believes the SSC location is isolated. What he does not realize is that the operations of his company affect residents who live in the immediate vicinity of the location, residents in Ellis County, and residents of nearby counties.
We have not forgotten Pendery's refusal to inform the community of what chemicals the Central Facility was mixing when the October 3 fire occurred. We have also not forgotten his refusal to provide the community a full inventory of every chemical located on-site. With the scale of their last accident, we will not support any efforts to relocate, rebuild, or expand until Magnablend shows an honest desire to cooperate, inform, and care about the community. This requirement is in addition to conducting full remediation of the burned and contaminated property and recognize that actions performed by the company have directly affected the health of residents.
Ellis County Judge Carol Bush expressed support for the relocation and focused her response on preserving jobs and improving vacant property. Judge Bush has completely ignored resident concerns since the October 3 fire and has positioned herself as pro-business and anti-resident. She has also single-handedly taken measures to silence residents.
County Commissioner Heath Sims, who has cooperated with residents, expressed some concerns about increased traffic. However, he believes that anyone, including businesses, have the freedom to own and do what you want with your property as long as you abide by laws and regulations. We understand his position, but we believe that residents have a right to refuse development of a property when the nature of the property can result in catastrophic disasters and even pollutes our environment under semi-normal operation.
County Commissioner Ron Brown supports the relocation as well. He believes Magnablend will be more careful because of the recent accident and that they will comply with all rules, regulations, and inspections. We do not share his same sentiments. Magnablend has already shown they are willing to ignore regulations.
An interesting item to note is Phill Banker at the Ennis Daily News (EDN) published an article on October 30, 2011 about the County Commissioners' Court easing deed restrictions to sweeten the deal for anyone interested in purchasing the SSC property. This is the same day that residents began to see tests being conducted on the SSC property and is the same day one resident was told by a county employee that Magnablend was interested in purchasing the property. We have strong suspicion that the deed restrictions were eased specifically for Magnablend and their desire to contaminate another part of our community.
The EDN article states the County previously had a deed restriction that prevented any business operating on the property that required certification from the TCEQ. This restriction was removed and changed to allow TCEQ regulated businesses as long as they adhere to TCEQ regulations. This immediately opened the door for Magnablend to consider the SSC property.
Kimberly M. Day first posted on the Ellis County Observer blog that Magnablend is holding a meeting with residents on Friday, January 6, 2011 at 8:00 p.m. at the Chapel Creek Manor at 3314 FM 1446, Waxahachie, TX 75167. The WDL quotes a resident confirming the meeting between nearby landowners and Pendery.
According to the WDL, topics of discussion will include recent TCEQ violations and why relocation plans are progressing before completing the clean up process at the Central Plant.
At the time of publication, we are unsure if this meeting is being restricted to nearby landowners only or if it is open to the community. However, if you believe the relocation may affect you, we encourage you to attend. Many residents have already voiced their intentions on attending the scheduled meeting and continue sharing the information with neighbors. The entire community has a right to know and a right to participate in discussions that may affect them.
A county public hearing is also being held on January 23 to discuss increasing the load limit on the county road leading to the SSC property.