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Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2001 12:00 am

County faces fines for water code violations

BY EMMA PEREZ-TREVIO

The Brownsville Herald

The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission proposes to fine Cameron

County $116,250 for violations of the Texas Water Code and Commission rules

regarding the reported deteriorating condition of several fueling facilities.

Cameron County has less than 60 days to decide if it will pay or reach a

settlement.

Otherwise, the county could face possible litigation, TNRCC recently notified

County Judge Gilberto Hinojosa.

Hinojosa countered that the county addressed TNRCCs concerns and is in

compliance.

A penalty really just doesnt benefit anything, Hinojosa said.

If the county continued to be out of compliance, then that is one thing but

we immediately acted to correct the problems, he said.

County officials recently received the notice and Commissioners Court

attorneys are reviewing the situation, Hinojosa said.

I believe TNRCC officials will work with us. They know that we worked hard to

get in compliance and are working hard to stay in compliance, he said.

TNRCC officials were not immediately available for comment.

Central to the enforcement action that the state regulatory agency pursues

against the county are violations discovered during investigations conducted

May 10, June 1, June 15, June 18, June 20 and Nov. 7, according to a letter

dated Dec. 14 to the county from Lorinda D. Gardner, the manager of TNRCCs

office in Harlingen.

The county was advised of the violations on Aug. 10 and County Auditor Mark

Yates notified Commissioners Court of the findings during a court meeting held

in the summer.

Facilities named in the enforcement action include the Precinct 3 warehouse

site at the northeast intersection of FM 510 and FM 3462 near San Benito, the

Precinct 4 warehouse site at 201 North T Street in Harlingen, the maintenance

shop on South Padre Island on Park Road 100, and the Precinct 1 and Precinct 2

warehouse sites at 3243 E.14th Street in Brownsville.

Yates said the county previously encountered problems finding a company that

could service the sites as required but has since found one.

He said the facility near San Benito was temporarily closed for further study

and that the county took all other corrective action that TNRCC recommended

and directed.

If their goal is to protect the environment and ensure compliance, then we

have responded to every one of their requests, Yates said. I dont know what

public purpose a fine serves.

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