The Austin Chronicle

Elon Musk's Boring Co. Slapped With More Environmental Violations

We Musk ask you to follow the law

By Lina Fisher, October 13, 2023, News

Elon Musk's Boring Co. facility in Bastrop is having a rocky road to completion, plagued by pesky environmental laws like the Clean Water Act. Two weeks ago the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality issued four violations relating to the Boring Co.'s management of stormwater runoff. According to the TCEQ, the Boring Co. was discharging stormwater associated with industrial activities before obtaining a permit, has failed to put in place erosion controls, has not stabilized areas disturbed by temporary construction, and isn't controlling runoff from its concrete truck washing stations – all of which sits right by the Colorado River.

This is not the first time the company has skirted regulations to build. In April of this year, they received three violations – two moderate and one minor – from TCEQ for their stormwater controls. Two more in 2022 for untreated wastewater drainage were labeled "major," which TCEQ defines as "when human health or the environment" is exposed to risky pollutants. In March, the company applied to dump close to 150,000 gallons of wastewater into the Colorado River until a new wastewater treatment plant is built in 2025, to widespread outcry. Bastrop County has also issued the Boring Co. a violation for an unpermitted septic system. These repeat violations are "serious enough to warrant an enforcement action," according to the TCEQ's website, in which TCEQ can enforce correction of the violations and seek penalties, either through an order issued by TCEQ commissioners or by referring the case to the Office of the Attorney General for litigation. No enforcement action has been scheduled yet.

Despite these repeat violations, Musk doesn't seem to have much concern about the safety of his construction, going as far as to bemoan on Twitter that permits are "by far the biggest impediment" to Boring Co. and that "construction is becoming practically illegal in North America and Europe," presumably referencing the Boring Co.'s hiccups as well as similar water-related concerns during the construction of his Tesla Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg in Germany. Earlier this year, The Washington Post quoted a Bastrop County employee complaining that they have been "regularly hounded by [the Boring Co.'s] staff and consultants to expedite and approve permit applications that are incomplete and not in compliance."

Chap Ambrose, whose property neighbors the local facility, has become something of a Musk watchdog in Bastrop, and reacted to the new violations in a video last week: "I'm sorry, neighbor, development remains legal in Bastrop, but what is illegal is polluting Texas water. Your permits in Texas are delayed because you're ignoring environmental laws. You're making this way harder than it has to be." In total, the Boring Co. has received nine violations since setting up shop in Bastrop. "This is the third inspection in less than a year that found Clean Water Act violations," he continued. "I welcome this growth ... I'm rooting for you, Mr. Musk ... But something has to change."

Copyright © 2024 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.