Texas authorities threaten SpaceX with legal action over beach closures and private security

The Gap focuses on SpaceX’s activities in South Texas, where the company has taken over large plots of land near Boca Chica Beach in order to build and test massive rocket prototypes of the rocket which the CEO says Elon Musk, will one day transport the first humans to Mars. .

The frequent road closures and traffic jams that SpaceX has caused in the region, as well as the explosive rocket testing incidents that littered local beaches with shrapnel, have often rubbed local residents and environmental activists in the wrong. meaning. Now the Cameron County district attorney, which encompasses Boca Chica Beach, is warning SpaceX its actions could make the company and, possibly, the employees “susceptible to arrest and prosecution,” according to a June 11 letter obtained. by CNN Business.
The content of the letter was initially reported by local TV channel KRGV.

In the memo, Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz alleged that members of his staff, while investigating a resident’s complaints about the behavior of SpaceX private security personnel on June 9, had encountered a man wearing a “tactical bulletproof vest” who “approached, arrested and detained them” for attempting to access a public road near SpaceX’s manufacturing facilities.

Saenz’s letter says the county did not allow road closures at the time, and its staff later found out that the security guard who detained them was not licensed by the Department of Security State of Texas, as required by state law.

“This conduct is unacceptable,” the letter read, adding that Saenz was further concerned that SpaceX responded to this and another similar incident in early April by assigning the incidents to a “security officer too zealous”.

“While Space-X is a valued member of our community, this does not authorize Space-X, its employees, staff, agents and / or contractors to ignore Texas law,” the letter said. “Also, please be aware that if this conduct were to occur again, not only the employee / contractor / agent of Space-X could be subject to arrest and prosecution, but as a business entity.” of Texas … Space-X could be sued as well. ”

SpaceX did not return requests for comment.

The letter also sets out complaints about the extent to which SpaceX has restricted access to Boca Chica Beach, which is one of the closest beaches to the town of Brownsville and one of the last remaining stretches of undeveloped coastline. of State. SpaceX is only allowed to close beaches for up to 300 hours per year for rocket tests and launches, according to an agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration.

But just six months into 2021, the company has already closed the beaches for around 385 hours, according to Saenz’s letter.

SpaceX’s actions could constitute a Class B misdemeanor (for “obstructing a freeway or other passage”) and a third degree felony (for “posing as a public officer”), the report said. letter.

The letter – which is addressed to SpaceX chief operations officer Shyamal Patel – also asks SpaceX to respond with a legal rationale for its action by June 14, although it is not clear whether SpaceX has responded. Saenz’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the matter.

Saenz’s letter says his office was told of problems with SpaceX by Save RGV, a local environmental group.

Mary Angela Branch, a Save RGV activist and resident of Port Isabel, the town adjacent to Boca Chica beach, told CNN Business that she began gathering evidence of SpaceX’s actions after hearing from a friend that SpaceX security guards prohibited people from accessing public roads. without authorization from the department.

“I don’t know how they got away with all of this,” Branch told CNN Business. “It’s scary.”




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