Company agrees to move almond hulls from Levelland after red flour beetle infestation

Published: Sep. 11, 2023 at 8:28 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 11, 2023 at 10:32 PM CDT
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LEVELLAND, Texas (KCBD) - The Penny Newman granary in Levelland has agreed to move the company’s almond hulls out of the city.

PREVIOUS STORY: Levelland industrial facilities to abate red flour beetles or face daily fines

The company can haul 700 tons of the almond hulls each day; it will take 10 to 12 days before everything is moved to another facility between Levelland and Amarillo.

“They can haul 700 tons a day, but there’s 5,500 tons there on site. So, it’s just going to take some time to get that done,” Kirkland said.

It is welcome news for the residents of the Kaufmann Addition, who say they have been eating, sleeping and showering with the bugs for months now. While they applauded the announcement, residents also had a lot of questions.

“Are they going to be fined in that meantime, or are you guys going to give them a little pass? Because, I mean, they had time before now to take care of it, and they chose not to,” Kauffman Addition resident Chasity Willson said.

Kirkland says Penny Newman has been issued citations each day since the test results came back on Sept. 6. As far as if those citations will continue while it is removing the hulls, City Attorney Matt Wade says it is not a matter he can discuss.

“We don’t really talk about whether or not we’re going to issue citations in the future for anybody. We don’t sit there and, that goes into a realm of prosecution and there’s different duties for the municipal prosecutor and the municipal court to consider,” Wade said.

After the almond hulls are moved, the company plans to spray the grounds in and around the facility. In addition, the Texas Department of Agriculture will allow the city to spray PERMEX, the same chemical used for mosquitoes, to target the red flour beetles.

“We planned on having our spraying and our fogging to mirror when they’re moving the almond hulls, so that we can catch them in flight as much as we can to just reduce the numbers. Because we know when they’re moving them, they’re going to stir them up,” Kirkland said.

Kirkland says the Texas Department of Agriculture will continue to place pheromone traps at the facility to ensure numbers are decreasing. The City plans to have an ordinance in place to regulate the storage of the almond hulls before next year.

“They’re writing ordinances, so I want to know are they going to be preemptive with making sure this doesn’t happen again, or are they just going to give them a slap on the wrist afterwards?” Willson said.

If Penny Newman ends up paying fines, the residents of the Kaufmann Addition want to know where that money will go. Wade says it goes to the municipal court’s fund, but the city could potentially create a program to help pay residents back for all they’ve spent on pest control.

The announcement comes after weeks of investigation into the red flour beetle infestation in the Kaufmann Addition. The Levelland community reported the infestation for two summers. Community members stated the beetles invaded their homes, infesting everything from their floors to their bedsheets.

The Penny Newman granary was identified as the main source of the red flour beetle nuisance. However, tests found the pests at two other facilities in the industrial rail park: Titan Lansing, a frac sand processing company, and ADM Southern Cotton Oil. Both of those facilities have already shown abatement measures have proved effective.

Officials stated the infestations may get worse during the removal process, especially with added moisture.

ADDITIONAL COVERAGE: City of Levelland addresses beetle infestation after two years of concerns