Generic environment

The state fined a manufacturing plant on the outskirts of Hallettsville about $26,000 on Wednesday for how it handled its trash.

One of Morgan Buildings’ neighbors on County Road 118 told the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality on June 5, 2017, that they were concerned fiberglass particles and green stormwater emitting from there would contaminate their property and water well.

A few days later, the TCEQ paid Morgan Buildings a visit and found it was illegally storing Sheetrock, wood, mattresses, metal, polyvinyl chloride pipe, insulation, empty totes, cardboard, paper, plastics, household trash, spas, fluorescent light bulbs and Styrofoam.

The TCEQ also found it had illegally burned some of that material, discharged stormwater and kept too many scrap tires.

Documents show Guy Morgan, the president of Morgan Buildings, which has locations throughout the U.S. but is headquartered in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, settled the case with TCEQ in September, denying any wrongdoing.

During a meeting Wednesday, the TCEQ commissioners approved the settlement and allowed Morgan Buildings to pay the fine in installments over the next three years. The commissioners approved it along with 26 other settlements, resulting in $284,559 in fines, $39,056 of which was deferred and $75,753 of which was applied to supplemental environmental projects.

Since 1951, Morgan Buildings has created and sold ready-made wooden or steel buildings in a range of sizes, according to its website.

It has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Hicks Morgan, who serves as the company’s secretary/treasurer as well as its general counsel, said it has had a location in Hallettsville since the 1970s.

He had no knowledge of his employees burning materials on the property but did say the company had a permit to discharge stormwater that it accidentally let lapse.

“I don’t want to make an excuse, but basically what happened with that is the company suffered a pretty extensive shrinking as a result of the recession,” he said.

In 2008, it employed about 250 people. Today, it employs about 30, he said, suspecting whoever oversaw the permit no longer works there.

“But the company has hired a consultant to help get all of that straightened out, and I think we have three months to get it done,” he said.

Morgan said the remaining employees are also being more diligent about disposing of trash and are thinking of ways to reuse the fiberglass on the property that the neighbor complained about.

He said there aren’t shards of fiberglass but fiberglass spa shells.

The company used to sell spas and continues to honor customers’ warranties to repair them. He said they could be used as fish ponds.

“We care as much as anybody else does about maintaining the environment,” Morgan said.

Jessica Priest reports on the environment and Calhoun County for the Victoria Advocate. She may be reached at jpriest@vicad.com or 361-580-6521.

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Environment/Investigations Reporter

Jessica Priest has done a little bit of everything since moving to Victoria in 2012. She was a regular fixture in the Crossroads’ historic courthouses, but now slathers on the sunscreen to report on the environment.

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