‘Shingle Mountain' Removal Begins, ‘New Era' for Southern Dallas Neighborhood

Air quality in the area is being monitored and the debris will be recycled, councilman says

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Thursday is a day a southern Dallas community has been waiting for.

The first truckload of debris pulled away Thursday morning from the 6-story-tall debris pile known as "shingle mountain" -- a sign of progress neighbors and city leaders came out to witness.

"We are nearly at the end of a two-year journey, involving the tireless work of the City's legal team and various City departments," Dallas City Councilman Tennell Atkins said in a written statement. "We are hopeful this process will alleviate concerns from surrounding community members and emphasizes the City's commitment to a clean environment."

The city says it will take 90 days to clean the pile, located along the 9500 block of South Central Expressway.

"Make sure we do everything safe, we got monitors inside and outside, so it was not an easy process to get something started, but as of today you are seeing, it took a couple years of litigation but now it's coming down, that's the good part, it's coming down now," Atkins said.

"Right now we really can't get overjoyed as much as everybody else because we have seen this start before, constantly before. And it started before, and it stopped. And here it is again," Marsha Jackson, who lives alongside the pile, told NBC 5.

Jackson first complained to the city about the dumpsite in January 2018, which she described as being less than 50 feet from her bedroom. In interviews with NBC 5, Jackson said dust from the site forced her family indoors and impacted their health.

By December 2018, the City of Dallas sued Blue Star Recycling, the company that had planned to grind up the shingles and sell them for use in road paving material, over code violations.

On April 3, 2019, Judge Gena Slaughter ordered the owners to remove the pile within 90 days, but in June 2019, with the judge's deadline approaching, the recycling company said they didn't have the money to remove the material but that they were making arrangements with other recycling firms and that it may take up to another year to clear the site.

When that year came and went last summer, one of the co-owners of Blue Star Recycling told NBC 5 that he'd tried to fix the problems after "not so great business practices by someone else," but that he was now out of business and was seeking bankruptcy protection. The second co-owner never replied to messages left by NBC 5.

Atkins says the shingle material is being removed by city contractor Roberts Trucking. It will be processed at McCommas Bluff Landfill and recycled, he said.

The removal process is being supervised by Modern Geosciences, with air quality being measured on and off the property.

In October, Southern Sector Rising, a group made up of Jackson's neighbors who live near the site, were joined by 31 other Dallas groups who cited "years of broken promises and missed deadlines" as the reason for a protest where they planned to deposit bags of "shingle mountain" waste at City Hall Plaza -- urging quick action be taken by city leaders.

"This happened, we took care of it, we're moving forward, but we never, ever, ever want to have a shingle mountain, or anything like it, happen again in the City of Dallas again. We're committed to that," said Dallas City Councilman Omar Narvaez.

A month before that planned protest, city leaders said they had approved a $450,000 contract to have the shingles removed but said then clean-up may not begin until after Christmas.

"Our neighborhood plan is hoping that the city will take over this property and allow some kind of neighborhood for our kids to have out here," said Jackson .

City ownership of the shingle mountain site is one option in the settlement once the clean-up process is complete.

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