MGC Pure Chemicals America, a company constructing a super-pure hydrogen peroxide production facility in Killeen, has applied for an air quality permit with the state’s environmental regulation agency, according to a consultant for the state.
Two legal notices submitted to the Herald on Tuesday by associate consultant Laura Auchterlonie with Austin-based BSI Services and Solutions showed the Japan-based company had applied for the first time for an air quality permit necessary to move forward with the plant’s operation.
The plant, located in the Killeen Business Park off Roy J. Smith Drive, was given the go-ahead in June 2017, when the company reached a performance agreement with the Killeen Economic Development Corporation to hire 28 new positions in exchange for more than $1.2 million in property tax and permitting reimbursements.
As part of its permitting process, the TCEQ allows residents to request a public meeting or “contested hearing” with the commission. In addition, residents are allowed to submit comments to the commission.
“The purpose of a public meeting is to provide the opportunity to submit comments or ask questions about the application,” the notice read. “A public meeting about the application will be held if the executive director determines that there is a significant degree of public interest in the application, if requested by an interested person, or if requested by a local legislator.”
The deadline to submit public comments or requests for a public meeting or hearing is Jan. 19.
Public comments and requests must be submitted either electronically at www14.tceq.texas.gov/epic/eComment/, or in writing to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Office of the Chief Clerk, MC-105, P.O. Box 13087, Austin, Texas 78711-3087.
Under the terms of its agreement, KEDC agreed to reimburse MGC for up to $486,000 in property tax payments; oblige the city to waive $20,000 in city tap, platting and permitting fees; pay closing costs up to $10,000; offer $224,000 in job creation grants; and reimburse MGC for up to $500,000 in infrastructure improvements, among other incentives.
In return, the plant is obligated to hire 28 positions with an average salary of $66,600, make a capital investment of about $23 million for its 20,000-square-foot original facility, and create an additional 28 jobs and make an additional $20 million investment if the facility expands.
After the plant applied for its air permit Nov. 9, city officials said the Killeen City Council was briefed by KEDC staff on developments at the plant prior to a corporation vote. Killeen Director of Communications Hilary Shine did not respond to a question about the nature of the vote.
On Nov. 20, Shine said council members were briefed in two behind-closed-doors meetings Nov. 19 and 20 with the KEDC in accordance with the council’s request to be briefed on any changes to the plant’s agreement.
The city did not specify what changes or actions the council was briefed on in those meetings, when asked.
Two council members, Shirley Fleming and Jim Kilpatrick, and Mayor Jose Segarra currently sit as voting members on the KEDC board. Council members asked for updates during a presentation with KEDC President Charlie Watts in September after they said they were blindsided by the city’s initial agreement for the plant. At the time of the plant’s initial agreement, Segarra and council members Juan Rivera and Debbie Nash-King sat on the EDC board.
Despite concerns that the council discussed public information in a closed setting, Shine said the city decided the briefings were not in violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act, which requires public bodies to discuss public information in an open and publicized forum.
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