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Dallas residents want toxic metals cleaned up at former Shingle Mountain site

shingle mountain.jpg
Keren Carrión
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KERA News
Shingle Mountain was a huge pile of shingles and roof materials located in southeastern Dallas. It was hauled away last year. Now, activists dream of a park at the former site.

Southeast Dallas residents who live near the former Shingle Mountain site want the city council to approve a $2 million cleanup of toxic lead and arsenic contamination.

Genaro Viniegra Jr. lives in the Floral Farms neighborhood. He said residents worry that the hazardous materials found next door are impacting their health.

“We have kids running around and playing, and we have livestock to take care of. So, it’s a little upsetting,” Viniegra said.

Tons of shingles and roofing materials were hauled away last year — but poisonous substances remain. An environmental assessment found alarming levels of lead in the soil last year. They were three times higher than the minimum required to clean up the site.

Residents have attributed dry coughs, asthma and breathing problems to the contamination next door.

The funding would finance the removal of dangerous substances still at the site and limit their impact on residents nearby. This would help make the property meet safety standards for residential areas. Dallas city council will discuss the issue on Wednesday.

Activists didn’t just want the shingles removed — they wanted the ground underneath to be safe as well.

floral farms park entrance.jpeg
HKS Inc.
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HKS architects created a rendering for a new park and said it was essential to keep Floral Farms' identity in the design. They want the community to feel at home.

Environmental activist Evelyn Mayo said restoring the site is a huge step toward transforming it into a park.

“For it to become a park space it would need to be remediated to residential standards,” said Mayo, who is with the group Downwinders at Risk. “This is a good sign that the city is not just remediating it, but actually committed to going to residential standards.”

Viniegra said the cleanup will help residents reclaim their neighborhood.

“That will be a huge step for our community just to heal. I know it is not over. They still have to remediate the land. It is just one step closer to fulfilling our dreams... getting that park.”

The Office of Environmental Quality and Sustainability (OEQS) said it would start an additional assessment of the property and enter the property into a state regulatory cleanup program.

“The purpose of this remediation is to better protect the health of our neighbors, particularly those that live immediately adjacent to the site,” said Carlos Evans, Director of the OEQS in a statement.

Mayo said city leaders should communicate better with Floral Farms residents moving forward.

“The residents have asked the city to come and brief them in the community about the current risks, about the current plan — and so far, it’s just been in the council chambers. So, we hope the bring this good news directly to the residents,” she said.

OEQS plans to begin remediation of the site in the summer of 2023 and hopes to complete the remediation in the fiscal year 2023-2024 if the funding is approved.

Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report For America corps member for KERA News. Email Alejandra at amartinez@kera.org. You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @alereports.

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