Sometimes Mom-and-Pop operations aren't best

Titan Gunite: TCEQ Wouldn't Go After Polluter, Maybe AG Will, Now That It's Too Late

There may be more bad news coming down the line for the owners of Titan Gun, a concrete company that had been located in a residential neighborhood in north Houston.

In mid-October, Harris County District Court Judge Mike Miller told Titan that it could no longer operate. For years, the facility had been in violation of state health and safety codes. The company was not taking care of its large sand piles and the business was located too close to its neighbors, including Deborah Wilkerson, who fought for years to get Titan to comply with the state's regulations.

Prior to going to court, Wilkerson spent more than a year begging the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to make Titan Gunite stop breaking the rules, but in accordance with its bureaucratic procedures, the TCEQ kept giving Titan more chances and more time to comply.

But Titan Gunite never did, which is why Wilkerson took the company to district court, where she won a permanent injunction forbidding Titan from ever again operating next door to her.

At the time, that seemed like the end of it. However, Hair Balls has learned that Titan could still be looking at additional penalties and fines.

In what at this point can only be described as pouring lemon juice on Titan's wound, the TCEQ finally forwarded the Titan Gunite case to the Texas Attorney General for enforcement purposes. According to the TCEQ referral letter, Titan did not comply with a TCEQ Commission's default order, did not pay a $6,120 fine, and no one from the company responded to the TCEQ when the agency tried to contact the owners about all of this in early October.

So now the matter is in the AG's hands, to, as the TCEQ letter states, pursue "legal action, including civil penalties ... and payment of past penalties."

So what will the AG do?

Tom Kelley, spokesman for the AG, won't show his cards and says the office just received the referral and thus no one can comment on how the AG's Office will proceed.

"I think the only appropriate comment would be to confirm receipt of the referral and confirm that the law authorizes injunctive relief and civil penalties in appropriate cases," said Kelley.

Not quite sure what that means, but it could spell more gloom for Titan Gunite.

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