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Elon Musk’s Boring Company Under Investigation in Texas

Published: May 17, 2022
A modified Tesla Model X electric vehicle enters a tunnel before an unveiling event for The Boring Company Hawthorne test tunnel Dec. 18, 2018 in Hawthorne, California. The Boring Company is under investigation by the Texas Environmental Agency. (Image: Robyn Beck-Pool/Getty Images)

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) confirmed late last month that it has received at least three complaints concerning wastewater and concrete production at the Boring Co. site at 130 Walker-Watson Road, located approximately 8 miles northwest of Downtown Bastrop, Texas, and has launched a pair of investigations. 

It remains unclear who made the complaints and whether they were from a single individual or multiple and the severity of any issues remains unknown as well. However, should violations be discovered the agency has the power to levy fines and stop work should it find any environmental violations. 

A spokeswoman for the TCEQ told the San Antonio Business Journal that the agency is unable to provide any additional information at this point adding that it aims to complete the investigations within the next 60 days. 

However, Bastrop County Commissioner, Mel Hamner, who is responsible for the precinct where the Boring Co. site is located says he has no concerns.

“I don’t think TCEQ is going to find anything,” Hamner said, arguing that the company has been well within regulations when officials have either met with the company or inspected the site. 

The complaints are but another conflict between neighbors for the company that recently moved its headquarters to Pflugerville and announced $675 million in funding. 

The Boring Company aims to dig transit tunnels in urban areas throughout the United States with the goal to “solve” traffic congestion and to make available real estate traditionally used for surface roads. 

The company has successfully opened a tunnel in Nevada where riders can make a quick trip to the Las Vegas Convention Center. 

The Boring Company also announced this week that it was approved to begin engineering work for a potential pedestrian tunnel in Kyle, the first public Boring Co. project in the Austin metropolitan area. 


Project shrouded in secrecy 

The Boring Co. purchased 73 acres of land in Bastrop County in 2021, however has not publicly detailed the work being conducted on the site. 

In February this year, locals flooded a meeting of the Bastrop County Commissioners Court, complaining about the lack of transparency about the facility and the additional traffic to the rural area just east of Austin. 

Also raised were concerns that the Boring Company’s activities were negatively impacting the quality of life for locals. 

“One neighbor said work is going on around the clock at the site and others noted that they’ve seen people staying in residential developments on the property and using a driveway on Walker-Watson Road despite staff acknowledging at the time they were unsure whether the company was permitted for housing on site,” the San Antonio Business Journal reported. 

At the meeting, commissioners voted to table a request from the Boring Company to construct an 80,000-square-foot facility at the site, pending investigations into the locals’ concerns. 

Hamner has acknowledged the community’s concerns saying they have been shared with the county and the Boring Company adding that he feels the company has adequately responded. 

Reportedly, county officials have met and approved the construction of warehouse space on the site. 

“They’ve been quite cooperative when approached and asked about things. They are a results-oriented company,” Hamner said.

Documents obtained by the San Antonio Business Journal show that the Boring Company has been granted permits to conduct commercial research and development at the site.

The documents detail an unusual plan for a tunnel digging company that consists of 10 multifamily structures totaling 13,330 square feet, with 30 bedrooms, 20 bathrooms, 10 kitchens, and a basketball court.

Little detail has been supplied about just what will be produced and stored at the facility and warehouse.

Included in the plans are a parking lot with hundreds of spaces, a loading dock and a paved connection to a local road. 

When asked if he had any concerns about the Boring Company Hamner said he was more concerned with subdivisions sprouting up in the area.

“I’ve got more concerns with the growth of the subdivisions coming in and growing from the Travis County line than I do with the Boring Company,” Hamner said.