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High Lead Levels Found At Former Shingle Mountain Site In Southeast Dallas Neighborhood

Marsha Jackson walked to her backyard, pointing at the lot next door where Shingle Mountain resided and wrapped through her backyard, on Nov. 19, 2020.
Keren Carrión
/
KERA
"When it comes to our neighborhood they are just not looking at us — at all," Marsha Jackson said. The Floral Farms resident walked to her backyard, pointing at the lot next door where Shingle Mountain resided and wrapped through her backyard, on Nov. 19, 2020.

A recent environmental assessment of the former Shingle Mountain site found alarming levels of lead in the soil. Neighborhood residents are worried about their health, their homes and future plans for a park on the site.

Floral Farms resident Cecilia Del Toro Garcia said she is devastated to learn that the soil next door to her house is highly contaminated with lead.

“Me da mucha pena. Por que estabamos tan ilusionados,” Gracias said in Spanish. I am so sorry this is happening, because the community was so excited.

Shingle Mountain was a 100,000 ton toxic waste dump in southeast Dallas that was created by a recycling company. After a three-year push by neighborhood residents, the city hired a contractor that removed the pile of rubble between December 2020 and Spring 2021. Learn more about Shingle Mountain's removal and resident's ongoing fight to have the neighborhood rezoned.

Garcia thought she had seen some light after the 100,000-ton pile of shingles and roofing materials, known as Shingle Mountain, was removed earlier this year.

But an environmental assessment completed in early June by Modern Geosciences found lead levels were three times higher than the minimum required to clean up the toxic waste dump.

Garcia said all she could think about was the park the Floral Farms neighborhood thought could be created now that the mountain of trash was gone.

“La ciudad nos iba a poner un parque. Pero ahora con eso del plomo no se si vaya haber una excusa para decir que no se puede,” Garcia said in Spanish. The city might have given us a park, but now with the lead, I don't know if there is going to be an excuse to say that it can't be done.

Cecilia Del Toro Garcia extends a hand to the horse in her backyard as she walks past them.
Keren Carrión / KERA News
Cecilia Del Toro Garcia greets the horses she keeps in her backyard, on Nov. 19, 2020.

Garcia's neighbor, Marsha Jackson, is alsoconcerned about what it means.

“We want the property tested," Jackson said. "We have animals, we have kids, we have ourselves and our family.”

Jackson, who's a long-time advocate, has attributed the dry cough and breathing problems she has to the contamination next door to her home. She is asking for the city to clean up the neighborhood.

In early July, Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax released a statement stating “groundwater samples support that arsenic and lead from the soil has not affected the groundwater.”

In the same statement Broadnax also wrote that the lead soil concentration on the site is within the threshold that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) concurrency levels ask for. The former Shingle Mountain site is zoned for industrial development.

But environmental activists say this is one example of how zoning impacts the health of those living near these certain types of industries.

The city said further action is required at the former Shingle Mountain site to get the lead levels regulated for residential land use, but that it couldn't address the lead levels or further cleanup until it took over ownership of the site.

A person wearing construction gear stands on top of the six-story pile of shingles known as Shingle Mountain. They work with Modern Geoscientists, an environmental company and is inspects the air quality during the removal process to make sure the air is not harmful to the residents.
Keren Carrión / KERA News
A person working with Modern Geoscientists, an environmental company, inspects the air quality during the Shingle Mountain removal process to make sure the air is not harmful to the residents.

According to an email from council member Tennell Atkins on July 16 the transfer of ownership was completed.

"I am pleased to announce that the City of Dallas has acquired the former Blue Star Recycling property owned by CCR Equity One LLC at 9505 S. Central Expressway," the statement said. "By taking ownership, the city can control the site use and work with the Texas Commission on Environmental Commission (TCEQ) on next environmental steps.”

When KERA reached out to the city about this story, a representative said they had no updated comment about the situation and referred to the July comment from the city manager. Council member Tennell Atkins did not respond to requests for additional comments.

Genaro Viniegra, co-chair of Neighbors United, a residential association for Floral Farms, said expressed frustration at the neighborhood's ongoing fight for rezoning.

“Mucha gente se siente atacada. No es justo. Ahorita la lucha es el código y zonificación del área, que la mantengan en agricultura,” Viniegra said in Spanish. Many people feel attacked. It’s not fair and we will continue fighting for the rezoning of the area.

Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report For America corps member and writes about the impact of COVID-19 on underserved communities for KERA News. Email Alejandra at amartinez@kera.org. You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @alereports.

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