FEMA Flood Decision Imminent On Laredo Toxic Waste Dump

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The war over a planned toxic waste dump near Laredo may soon be over as FEMA decides if the flood risk to the community is too high.

A letter from FEMA contractor AECOM to dump developer Rancho Viejo says there will be a decision made by the end of January.

The flood agency was supposed to issue new flood maps in November that could have spelled doom for the proposed dump by developer C.Y. Benavides and Rancho Viejo Waste Management.

Dolcefino Consulting has been investigating the toxic Pescadito landfill and the threat to residents as part of a nine-year battle to stop it. The delays by FEMA have caused the court fight by dump opponents to be put on hold for the last 19 months.

The new flood maps will confirm if too much of the site for the proposed dump falls inside of a 100-year floodplain. The previous set of maps issued by FEMA showed the planned dump would sit mostly in that dangerous zone and increase the flooding risks substantially for the surrounding area. The dump could bring toxic waste from Mexico and coal ash from around the country.

“If you tell me that you’re going to build a dump in a floodplain, you’re going to be taking in coal fly ash and other waste from Mexico and you’re going to run straight through the middle of town across rail lines, the answer is not only no but hell no,” former City Councilman George Altgelt told Dolcefino Consulting.

The Laredo City Council purchased the Ponderosa Regional Landfill in September, which will give them landfill capacity for at least the next 100 years. Councilmembers say that move made any previous need for the Pescadito dump unnecessary. The City of Laredo and Webb County have both officially come out against the planned dump.

FEMA’s decision will have consequences for hundreds of thousands of people living in Webb County and may be the reason why the toxic site is rejected.

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