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Dallas council members worry that contamination at Shingle Mountain could extend into neighborhood

Shingle Mountain
Keren Carrión
The Shingle Mountain site before city officials hauled away tons of construction debris in 2021.

Some city leaders worry that lead contamination at a Southeast Dallas site where tons of shingles and other construction material had been dumped may also have contaminated parts of the surrounding neighborhood.

Council members on Wednesday discussed a $2 million cleanup at the former Shingle Mountain site. The funding was approved. Residents want to turn the site into a new park. One council member also also asked what needed to be done to make the property safe for use as a park or housing. But city officials said in an email Friday that there are no plans make the site a park.

In 2021, the city acquired ownership of the site in the Floral Farms neighborhood where many tons of old shingles and other construction debris was dumped for many years. That debris was hauled away by the city last year as well.

"We call it Shingle Mountain. Shingle Mountain is done. That's the check mark is done. But now we're in the remediation of a lead plant that had been there previously. So just want to make sure that everybody understands that," Council Member Omar Narvaez said.

City staff on Friday said that contamination on the site is related to lead contaminated fill soil, not a lead smelter. An email said that aerial photos from the 1970-1980s "show the placement of fill on the property."

Council member Tennell Atkins represents the area. Atkins said at Wednesday’s council meeting that he worries about the extent of the contamination.

This is not the first site, he said, where there have been “environmental problems around the neighborhood.”

Atkins said in a statement that he looked forward to seeing the area “brought up to residential standards to finally give the community the safety and peace of mind they deserve.”

“We must be good stewards of our environment, and as a city, we must advocate for the health and wellbeing of our Dallas communities," said council member Paula Blackmon, who serves as the chairwoman of the Environment and Sustainability Committee.

Atkins also asked during Wednesday’s meeting who would be responsible for possible contamination in the area beyond the site.

In an email, city staff said that "previous reports and data collected support that lead contaminated fill soil identified at this site is localized on this property and does not appear to extend onto neighboring properties."

Earlier this week, Genaro Viniegra Jr. who lives in the Floral Farms neighborhood, said he and other residents worry that the hazardous materials found at the site are impacting their health. Residents have attributed dry coughs, asthma and breathing problems to the contamination.

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

Anenvironmental assessment found alarming levels of lead in the soil at the site last year. They were three times higher than the minimum required to clean up the site.

Environmental activists have said they didn’t just want the shingles removed — they wanted the ground underneath to be safe as well.

Environmental activist Evelyn Mayo said this week that restoring the site would be a huge step toward transforming it into a park.

“This is a good sign that the city is not just remediating it, but actually committed to going to residential standards,” said Mayo, who is with the group Downwinders at Risk.

Viniegra said the cleanup will help residents reclaim their neighborhood.

“It is just one step closer to fulfilling our dreams... getting that park,” he said.

The Office of Environmental Quality and Sustainability (OEQS) said it started an additional assessment of the property. Once that is done officials plan to enter the property into a state regulatory cleanup program. Then officials at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will determine what is the best remediation option.

“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 earlier this week.

Environmental experts say the site's cleanup could be completed as early as fall 2023.

City staff said the City Plan Commission has authorized a public hearing on zoning for the area, including the Shingle Mountain site.

(This story has been updated to reflect additional information provided by the City of Dallas staff on Friday. A council member referred to a lead plant at the site during Wednesday's meeting, but city staff said that the lead contamination was from "soil-fill.")

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

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Alejandra Martinez is a reporter for KERA and The Texas Newsroom through Report for America (RFA). She's covering the impact of COVID-19 on underserved communities and the city of Dallas.