Monday, March 29, 2010
Environmental Hazards Can't Make Good Neighbors
It feels great to be heard, doesn't it?
I think the Dallas Morning News finally heard the residents of South Dallas - and southern Dallas - when they say they don't want to live next to the environmental hazards that the scrap metal yards that ring their neighborhoods represent.
Page four of Unify South Dallas' 'Accountability Agenda' calls for a relocation plan for these heavy industrial businesses along the Lamar Street corridor.
That seems to be a hard thing for city officials to get. It almost seems at times that people think that heavy industrial businesses came first and then these poor people came and invaded their space. Nothing can be further from the truth.
The recent DMN editorial I reference points out:
"Caroline Arriaga's family is emblematic of the injustices inflicted over several decades when city leaders allowed some southern Dallas neighborhoods to become scrapheap zones. Next door to the Cadillac Heights house her family has owned since 1960 is the contaminated site of a dismantled lead smelter. A smelly sewage-treatment plant sits a few blocks away on the banks of the Trinity. All around are unsightly salvage yards and illegal dumpsites."
"Previous City Councils and zoning officials made the decisions that allowed this toxic stew to be dumped at Arriaga's doorstep. Dallas' current leadership must declare emphatically that this willful disregard for southern Dallas neighborhoods will go no further."
"Arriaga's parents bought their house 26 years before the Oak Cliff Metals site got its first permit. Having grown up in the shadows of two smelters, Arriaga says it seemed harmless to play in the front yard with her own children. She was diagnosed with lymphoma in 1994. Clinical tests around 1998 found extremely high lead levels in her blood and that of her autistic son, Frankie."
Scrap metal yard owners and their employees operate legitimate businesses. They are a part of a necessary industry. But they don't belong next to residential areas and citizens out to be able to count on the same government that allowed them to operate there to their detriment to work with them to come up with a workable solution.
"The time has come for metal recyclers to begin transitioning out of Dallas' urban core. Instead of approving the Falcon Transit permit and perpetuating blight, the City Council must adopt a smarter, cleaner approach."