GREGORY, Texas — The Chinese steel pipe making facility near Gregory was forced to pay a fine of around $3 million for not complying with the tax abatement agreement it has with San Patricio County.

The Chinese steel pipe-making facility did not have nearly as many full-time workers as the company first promised. A lot of residents said they have been concerned because when they go to the steel facility, they don't see any employee cars in the parking lot in front of the building. 

San Patricio County Judge David Krebs has been asking a lot of questions after there were supposed to be hundreds of workers in the facility.

"That's why when the public sees when they come by here, there are only five or six cars out in the front, you wonder what's going on," Krebs said.

Corpus Christi officials, Del Mar College representatives, and Krebs joined together as pipes were loaded onto a truck when TPCO made a donation to Del Mar College so students could practice their welding skills.

"I think they are moving along I think they admitted they're behind in their schedule. There are one contributing factors A lot of Projects are behind the Harbor Bridge. Is behind schedule from what I understand so they are still committed based on the conversations they had with us. So we're looking forward to their continuing project completion of the project and staying in the community for a long time and staying in the community for a long time," Mayor Joe McComb, City of Corpus Christi.

Company officials told 3News they are still on track and are preparing to hire more people.

"We're still on track of the production side operations side we slowed down we slow down a little bit. Because we have so much into this project, we still have a very high determination to get this project completed. There is still a lot of work that still needs to be completed. We are planning on hiring more and more US local employees," said Zhu Xueqian, President of TEDA and TPCO.

According to Krebs, the abatement agreement the company signed required them to have 400 workers by now, but they only had around 100. The company had to pay the county 3 million dollars.

"So, really they weren't in compliance with their abatement schedule, so that was the penalty they had to pay to get into compliance," Krebs said. 

Plant officials believe by the end of 2021 they should be fully operational.

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