Southern Sector Rising
Outstanding New Activist Organization:
Southern Sector Rising
The Southern Sector Rising Campaign for Environmental Justice was formed in February of this 2019 as an ad hoc group seeking to shut down and clean-up “Shingle Mountain,” the largest illegal dump in Dallas – a mound of toxic shingles several stories high, creating a toxic mound that backs up to private homes, spreading its fumes throughout the neighborhood.
At the time, the City of Dallas was still defending the continued operation of the dump, despite the fact that the company operating at the site didn’t have any permits, didn’t have the right zoning, and didn’t have the correct Certificate of Occupancy.
The Campaign held its first news conference on March 20th at the Flag Room at City Hall, with the ultimatum that if the City wouldn’t close this illegal dump, they’d begin blocking trucks at its gate on Earth Day. In the middle of this news conference, word came that the City of Dallas was reversing course and decided the dump was illegal after all. It sought and received an injunction to shut Shingle Mountain down.
The dump quit accepting new shingles in April and was officially ordered by a State District Court Judge to completely clean-up the dump by July 4th. This still has not happened! The operator has no money and the City isn’t stepping in. Tens of thousands of tons of hazardous waste still sit immediately adjacent to homes. The presence of this waste is causing continuing health problems for residents.
Recognizing the need to address Shingle Mountain as a symptom of systematic abuse rather than an aberration, the Campaign recommended four specific policies to bring environmental equity to the Southern Sector at its March news conference: a new environmental justice provision in the City ‘s new economic development policy; a moratorium on any permitting and any new pollution in the Southern Sector until that environmental justice provision is in place; restoration of the Dallas Environmental Health Commission; and a model Joppa Environmental Preservation District. SSR continues to press for these reforms at City Hall to prevent new Shingle Mountains.
Today, the group is governed by a Steering Committee representing the Southern Sector council districts 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8, with monthly meetings. They’re still determined to clean up Shingle Mountain completely and implement overdue reforms. They recognize that Shingle Mountain is the most powerful symbol for environmental justice in Dallas since the RSR lead smelter Superfund site in the 1990’s. The group is determined to take advantage of the opportunity to correct decades of racist land-use planning in Dallas or risk seeing other, even bigger outrages occur.
According to SSR President, Marsha Jackson, “We know it will be difficult, but we’ve already proven that together, we can move mountains.”