Commissioners Pass Resolution for Dallas County Environmental Protection

Dallas County Commissioners attack TCEQ performance

Dallas County Commissioners passed a resolution Tuesday calling for tougher and faster environmental protection from the Texas Commission on Environment Quality (TCEQ).

The resolution cited three Dallas County problems where commissioners said they believed the TCEQ has failed to properly protect people.

"We are asking TCEQ, please do your job," Commissioner Elba Garcia said.

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The resolution received unanimous support from all five Dallas County Commissioners. Republican J.J. Koch joined the four Democrats in voting for the measure.

"No more excuses. Democrats and Republicans, we all have to work together," Garcia said.

Corey Troiani with the Texas Campaign for the Environment said his group was lobbying other counties and cities to follow Dallas County's lead.

"And with support from counties across the state, from officials across the state, we're going to build that power with TCEQ and show them that they can’t say no to all of us," he said

The three cases cited in the Dallas County resolution are Blue Star Recycling Company's so-called "Shingle Mountain" in southern Dallas, the former Lane Plating and Del Fasco Forge sites.

Resident Davante D. Peters lives near the Lane Plating site on Bonnie View Road in southern Dallas, where a youth baseball field is just downhill from the closed business.

"Me being a resident, I didn't know about it until I got active," Peters said. "So a lot of the residents still don't know what's going on right in their neighborhood."

Lane Plating and the former Del Fasco Forge Company site on 28th Street in Grand Prairie have both been designated federal Superfund priority sites by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for cleanup of toxic pollution and ground water contamination.

Del Fasco Forge made practice bombs for the U.S. Navy and Air Force before it closed in 1998. It is surrounded by 100 homes and a middle school. The building has been leased for other businesses since.

The county resolution said the TCEQ did not require cleanup of toxic contamination that it discovered at both sites.

"TCEQ, I've said it publicly in our hearings, they are the problem," County Commissioner John Wiley Price said.

National NAACP Environmental Justice Director Jacqui Patterson visited the Shingle Mountain site off S. Central Expressway Tuesday with neighbor Marsha Jackson.

"I went to Houston this weekend, had a great time. As soon as I got home, as soon as I came home, my head started hurting and I started getting sick, nauseated," Jackson said.

Patterson said illness was a common complaint of neighbors who live near environmental hazards.

The TCEQ granted Blue Star Recycling a permit to operate the shingle recycling operation, but only for storage of a fraction of the material that wound up there.

"Enforcement is one of the biggest issues. You have rules on the books, but you don't have the means of them being monitored or enforced. So, companies will often do as little as they can do until they are actually forced to do what they're supposed to do," Patterson said.

Last month a judge gave new executives with Blue Star Recycling six more months to complete a cleanup. Jackson said the company never really started to clean up in the three previous months the company was given by the judge to get the job done.

"The judge doesn't have to live next to Shingle Mountain. Miss Jackson does and her neighbors do," Dallas NAACP Vice President Kevin Felder said.

Patterson said the NAACP would pursue new legal action.

"We will be talking with our general counsel to get their input on next steps to really make sure that Miss Jackson and her neighbors are no longer in harm's way," Patterson said.

A group of activists gathered at Jackson's home Tuesday for what they said was the start of a new war to remove Shingle Mountain.

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