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Wednesday, May 25, 2022
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Dallas Approves $2 Million to Clean Up Former Recycling Lot

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Former Blue Star Recycling clean up | Image by City of Dallas

The Dallas City Council approved $2 million to clean up lead contamination found on the site of the former Blue Star Recycling facility. The site has been part of numerous lawsuits and numerous complaints by the public for several years.

The approved funds will allow clean-up work to begin immediately, with an expected completion date between fall 2023 and summer 2024.

“The history of contamination at this site has plagued the community for far too long. I am proud to represent the residents of District 8, who have been strong advocates for their neighborhood. I am thrilled that we have funds approved toward remediation. I look forward to seeing the area brought up to residential standards to finally give the community the safety and peace of mind they deserve,” said Council Member Tennell Atkins in a press release.

Atkins’ district includes the former Blue Star Recycling site.

The site originally came to attention after Blue Star Recycling began dumping asphalt roofing shingles on leased land located in the 9500-block of S. Central Expressway in South Dallas in 2018 and 2019.

The company operating the recycling plant had intended to break down the shingles into products that could be used for paving roads and similar projects.

On December 11, 2020, the Dallas courts issued a final ruling on a lawsuit filed by the City claiming that the dumping of the shingles was illegal. The court agreed and the City was granted permission to access the site and begin cleanup.

The shingles were removed from the facility, with the majority of work completed by February 2021. According to the City, a total of 154,396 tonnes of shingles were removed.

According to a September 11, 2020, article in the Dallas Observer, the City allocated $2.1 million from the sanitation department budget to fund the cleanup. The waste shingles were dumped in the McCommas Bluff Landfill.

The land was owned by CCR Holdings, which leased it to Blue Star Recycling. Rather than pay tens of thousands in fines or be responsible for cleanup, CCR Holdings surrendered the land to the City.

The lead contamination was discovered as shingles buried in the ground were removed. The contamination is not believed to be related to the shingles, but there has been no official explanation for the presence of the toxic metal.

Efforts to finalize the cleanup of the former recycling center have been spearheaded by community members, who asked the Environmental Commission to address the problems on their behalf in March.

“We are grateful to City leadership and to the volunteer and community advocates for getting us to today’s action; a collaborative effort, which ensures that we’re better protecting the health of our neighbors,” said Director of the Office of Environmental Quality and Sustainability Carlos Evans in a press release.

The current plan is to remediate the land to residential quality standards, potentially opening up residential construction on the site.

“We must be good stewards of our environment, and as a city, we must advocate for the health and wellbeing of our Dallas communities. I want to thank City leadership and staff for identifying the funds to ensure remediation,” said Environment and Sustainability Committee Chairwoman Paula Blackmon.

The City provides an online dashboard that allows the public to follow along as the site remediation takes place that includes information about environmental safety efforts and air quality monitoring data.      

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