College says dust from Dallas storm debris operation caused AC systems to break, classes canceled

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The city of Dallas is facing legal troubles over its storm debris operations in North Dallas.

Medisend College of Biomedical Engineering Technology, a small nonprofit college designated for military veterans, filed suit against the city, claiming dust and dirt pollution from its temporary storm debris site next to the college has damaged its building and forced it to close or scale down classes.

The city’s site is near Interstate 635 and Greenville Avenue in North Dallas and is about the length of five football fields.

Much of the debris from the destructive May storm has been hauled to the site to be ground, mulched, and bound for the city’s landfill.

“They're mulching and grinding trees and dirt, wood, plastic, etc., and creating huge plumes of dust and debris that are left onto the top of our building and clogging up our air conditioning systems,” said Nick Hallack, founder and president of the college.

The lawsuit filed in the 191st Judicial District Court of Dallas County alleges that "the city's operations are causing dust and dirt pollution to blow onto the school’s property and into commercial air conditioning units, causing them to clog and fail."

The suit also claims the dust particles have caused HVAC motors to burn out and “contaminated sensitive, expensive medical equipment."

Military veteran students receive hands-on training in a 7-month program seeking hospital and biomedical equipment repair careers.

A district judge granted a temporary restraining order Wednesday after hearing arguments via Zoom from attorneys representing the college and city.

“The TRO, the temporary restraining order, says you have to now behave in a lawful, legal manner according to the law,” said Hallack.

The order allowed the city of Dallas to continue hauling debris and mulch in and out of the facility.

However, the city is tasked with ensuring that the machines grind up debris abide by Texas environmental regulations and include “better dust control” measures before resuming mulching operations.

Both sides dispute how effective a small number of trucks spraying water on debris has been.

Hallack said the disruption caused by the dust threatens their current cohort of students, and a new group is expected later this month.

“This is a kind of a breach of trust for them,” he said. “They've stopped their lives and their families for seven months, who come to us with the understanding that we will give them the best education in the country and get them jobs. That's now in jeopardy. It's in danger.”

Both sides will be in court proceedings on July 22, where a long-term plan may be considered.

A spokesman for the city of Dallas said they have no comment on pending litigation.

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