“Marsha Jackson Is Trying to Move Shingle Mountain”

“The illegal dump is southern Dallas’ most visible environmental justice crisis. It’s far from the only one.”

“On hot, humid days, when the wind blows over Shingle Mountain, Marsha Jackson can’t breathe. For three years, a company called Blue Star Recycling dumped hundreds of tons of roof shingles in the lot next to her home and ground them up into dust. Eventually, the company created a pile so large it resembled a mountain shooting up out of the flat expanse of southern Dallas. Blue Star claimed it was saving the material from heading to a nearby landfill, but in truth, the company created a new, illegal dump, 50 feet away from Jackson’s bedroom window.

For the entirety of its three-year existence, the 100-foot-tall pile of ground-up shingles, which is now so much a part of the landscape that it’s been named, has sat uncovered. Shingle Mountain’s dust, which contains carcinogens like asphalt fumes, swirls into the air, settling on top of the homes on Jackson’s street, and into the lungs of the people who live there.

Jackson has been trying to do something about Shingle Mountain for years. She’s complained to the city, which tried to get the company to clean up its act; when that didn’t work, she sued the company, as well as the man who owns the land beneath the mountain. The attorney general’s office got involved this year, but nothing’s changed. Now, Jackson is also suing the city, claiming that its lack of action equals complicity. The lawsuit charges the city with violating Jackson’s civil rights by zoning the lot next to her home for industrial manufacturing.”

Amal Ahmed reports for the Texas Observer August 25, 2020.