LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - This week, a Texas District Judge is scheduled to decide if the Lubbock County recycling plant, that was still smoldering Tuesday night, will stay in businesses. Larry Webb, 56, owns I-27 Recycling and Public Scales, which erupted in flames around 6 p.m. Monday.
Webb told authorities he was refueling his truck when the gasoline caught fire. Doctors treated him for burns, but he's since been released from University Medical Center.
On Friday, a Travis County Jury fined Webb $100,000 for violating environmental law. That followed an ongoing investigation by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The TCEQ's investigation began before the fire broke out.
The facility has been under a temporary injunction since December. That means they haven't been able to take new waste since that time. On Thursday, a judge will decide whether to grant a permanent junction. That would basically shut the facility down.
"It's a situation that, until it is cleaned up, it is not going to go away," Lubbock County Commissioner Patti Jones said. She says I-27 Recycling has had problems since the beginning. With multiple fires, Jones says the facility creates a hazard for the county. "Oh, absolutely. I mean, even though there's not homes immediately next to it, you've got I-27 here on the east and the airport, and the air quality that goes a long with it," Jones said.
Jeff Bertl with the TCEQ tells NewsChannel 11 they're monitoring air quality. Preliminary tests show no dangers, and he doesn't expect any to develop. "When they had the first fire back in 2002, we monitored at that time and didn't pick up anything then," Bertl said.
Fire isn't the only problem facing facility owner Webb. He already has to pay a $100,000 fine for not following recycling laws. Jury members say Webb broke the law for 1,378 days, and fined him $72.57 for each day.
"Thursday of this week, the attorneys are supposed to meet in front of the judge to argue a permanent injunction," Bertl said. The injunction would permanently prevent Webb from accepting any new material. TCEQ says they could then start looking at clean-up.
Commissioner Jones supports the closure. "This needs to have something done to it immediately. I'd like to see it closed and cleaned-up," Jones said.
Thursday's hearing could be delayed if Webb's injuries prevent him from attending. NewsChannel 11 tried to contact Webb for comment Tuesday, but we could not reach him.
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7 Lubbock County fire crews called to battle flames
A large fire continued to burn at a Lubbock County recycling plant near Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport Monday night. Flames broke out around 6 p.m. Asphalt and wood shingles caught fire, along with some other debris.