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Civil rights complaint filed against city for proposed desalination plant

Multiple residents complained that the placement of new industry will only attract more industry and force out the remaining residents.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect that the property belongs to Flint Hills Resources Corpus Christi.

A civil rights complaint was filed against the city of Corpus Christi over its plans for a desalination plant on property next to the Hillcrest neighborhood.

Henry Williams is President of the Hillcrest Residents Association. He believes the desalination plant would be "discriminatory."

The association announced that they were filing a civil rights complaint with the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development against the city for Title VI violations of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The site of the proposed plant is on land that belongs to Flint Hills Resources Corpus Christi. In May, the City of Corpus Christi agreed to pay $300,000 for three years with an option to buy the property for $5 million.

Multiple residents complained that the placement of new industry will only attract more industry and force out the remaining residents. 

"For over 60 years the city of Corpus Christi has systematically allowed a practice of benign neglect," said Lamont Taylor, a founding member of the Hillcrest Residents Association. 

Hillcrest resident Carole Spencer said that she feels that the desalination plant is forcing her out of her home. 

"The elderly, most of the elderly people that still live here and I'm one of them. And I do not want to leave Hillcrest," she said. 

Another issue regarding the proposed desalination plant is the issue of noise pollution. Zora Djenohan, associate attorney for Earthjustice, said that the location of the noise impact from the construction could cause potential harm to the community. 

"I cited to a study in the Title VI complaint that talks about the fact that the desalination process is incredibly loud and the study itself recommended that it not be put in residential areas because of the noise impact," she said. 

3NEWS also reached out to Corpus Christi Mayor Paulette Guajardo, who said that the desalination plant would not cause any noise problems for the community.

"These desal plants, they're not loud plants per say at all. Yes, we have addressed these issues and continue to, but no we don't see that as a problem," Guajardo said.

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