First, the city of Dallas came for Shingle Mountain, yet still it remains. Now the state of Texas wants it gone by no later than mid-June.
That’s according to a petition filed Wednesday by state Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office, which has intervened in a lawsuit filed by Dallas City Hall in December 2018. The city’s case effectively shut down Blue Star Recycling, the company that amassed the roof shingles, in southwest Dallas last April. But so far, it has failed to result in the 70,000-ton pile’s disappearance.
A day after the state got involved, trucks drove up to the site Thursday to begin removing the materials piled high and wide over the last two years along a small creek running behind two homes off South Central Expressway.
Attorney Greg Sudbury, whose client bought the land upon which the materials were piled, said Shingle Mountain – or, at least, “a significant portion” of it – will be gone “as soon as possible.”
Marsha Jackson, the homeowner who lives in Shingle Mountain’s shadow, has heard that same pledge countless times over the last year.
She thought it would vanish when the district court judge closed the mountain last spring. Then Blue Star’s CEO Chris Ganter, a Collin County resident, disappeared, turning it over to a partner named Carl Orrell, who said the company had no money to comply with the judge’s order to remove Shingle Mountain within 90 days.
Jackson also thought it would be gone in November when the judge found the makers of Shingle Mountain in contempt and fined them for disobeying her orders. And still, nothing happened.
Jackson had all but given up until a truck showed up last week to begin carting off some of the smaller pile of processed shingles near her home.
On Thursday morning, she was stunned to find workers beginning to haul away some of the massive pile that stretches from the expressway to the faraway utility easement.
“Finally, finally,” Jackson said. “It’s been a nightmare. I was very excited, very excited. And very happy. I just hope they continue.”
Sudbury said the appearance of those trucks Thursday was merely “coincidental,” and had nothing to do with the state’s intervention in the ongoing litigation.
Of the state’s involvement, Sudbury said, “I don’t know what impact it’s going to have.”
Sudbury said an outside vendor had already been hired by his client, CCR Equity Holdings One – a one-man company founded by an actuary named Cabe Chadick – to begin hauling off all the materials stored on site.
He said he didn’t know the name of the vendor loading the shingles or where they were being taken. But “the intent is not to make another mountain,” Sudbury said. “The hope is the vendor finds an outlet or someone who intends to recycle the material as it was intended, for hot asphalt and other purposes.”
Environmental activist Jim Schermbeck, who brought Jackson’s plight to light in 2018, actually followed a truck Thursday afternoon – and watched it drop its load of shingles on a rural field in the city of Rice, about 45 minutes south of Dallas off Interstate 45. Said Schermbeck, it looks like they’re merely moving the mountain from one location to another spot out of sight – but not out of the state’s reach.
“There’s a new Shingle Mountain being built here,” said Schermbeck, founder of Downwinders at Risk and the first to plead for justice for Jackson and her neighbors long before City Hall finally got involved. “It has no containment, no fencing – and no recycling facility in sight. It’s quite a scene here – a junkyard that decides it needs another attraction.”
Schermbeck said Rice city officials told them it’s just outside the city limits.
The state, including the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, wants the judge to grant its request for a temporary injunction and order the mountain of raw shingles and all other smaller piles removed from the site within the next three months.
Paxton’s office is also seeking civil penalties for Blue Star and CCR’s “violations of state environmental laws and TCEQ rules related to unauthorized acceptance, storage and disposal of solid waste.” The state’s petition also wants the defendants to “remediate any and all contamination that they caused, suffered, allowed, or permitted.”
City attorneys had alleged the shingles caused numerous stormwater and solid-waste violations. Over the course of the last year, District Judge Gena Slaughter closed Blue Star, ordered its owner Chris Ganter to remove the shingles, then found the Collin County company in contempt for failing to comply with her order.
Last month, the city went back to court demanding Chadick remove the shingles. Chadick said he would, but only if City Hall helped cover the $2 million cost of transferring the mountain to the city’s landfill across the street. The city refused, saying it was Ganter and Chadick’s mess.
The judge has yet to rule on the request for a temporary injunction.
Her delay appears to have resulted in the intervention of Paxton’s office. The attorney general’s office would say only that the case was referred by TCEQ, and that it “cannot comment on the pending litigation at this time.”
Assistant City Attorney Andrew Gilbert said “the city views the state of Texas as a necessary party in this action,” given the alleged violations of state law and regulations. He said, too, that “any additional effort to remove the material is welcome.”
Sudbury said he couldn’t say how long it would take to dismantle Shingle Mountain.
“All I can tell you is that it is moving,” he said, “and that CCR is pleased with the movement it is seeing recently with the pace of the clean-up.”