On Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency began demolition and excavation of the Lane Plating Works electroplating plant, which produced highly toxic chemical waste in the southern Dallas area.
“We have conducted numerous assessments and determined that concentrations of hazardous substances within the structure and surrounding soil pose an imminent and significant risk to trespassers, leading to removal actions,” said Eric Delgado, local EPA coordinator.
The Lane Plating Works closed in 2015 due to violations, investigations and bankruptcy filings, leaving behind tons of liquid plating waste, and in 2018 it became a Superfund site, a polluted area designated by the EPA for cleanup due to hazardous chemicals found. substances such as hexavalent chromium. lead, arsenic and mercury. About 188,000 pounds of material waste has been cleared since 2018, according to the EPA. Even so, those who enter a building located near the Arden Terrace area will be exposed to high levels of hexavalent chromium dust.
Now, according to Delgado, they will demolish the building and then dig up about 11,000 tons of contaminated soil in the coming months. He said they have installed air monitors and are conducting daily air sampling for asbestos to ensure the demolition activity does not harm the surrounding community.
Temekia Darrow, District 7 City Environmental Commissioner who grew up in the community and now lives in Joppa, is grateful for the change. Darrow said homeless people frequently invaded the Lane Plating building for shelter and unknowingly exposed themselves to toxic chemicals. According to her, this was the main reason why the building had to be demolished.
“Even though they are homeless, they are people of this community and we have to protect them,” Darrow said. “We want to protect everyone: children, dogs, homeless animals, everyone.”
Dallas City Council member Tennell Atkins, District 8, said the change was community driven as it affected surrounding neighbors every day.
“It was a problem, they inhaled it and saw it in their yard every day and knew it was toxic waste,” Atkins said. “I wonder if they are going to clean it up? It was a big problem.”
Jasmine Crockett, U.S. Representative for the state’s 30th congressional district, said the move is part of a larger mission to clean up the city so residents have a safe community.
“The links between air pollution, underlying health conditions, and the effects of COVID-19 are inextricably linked, especially in black and brown communities,” Crockett said.
The Lane Plating Works has been in operation for decades. Gloria Barnes, president of the neighborhood association, had lived in the area for about 30 years and didn’t realize how polluted the building was.
“We didn’t really know what they were doing here because they were here the longest,” Barnes said. “But this demolition today, it’s a blessing to do it, as it polluted so much around.”
Barnes said she was still worried about how the pollution could have affected residents in the long run. However, she hopes that the future of this land is bright.
“I hope they put something here that will benefit the whole area,” said Barnes. “Most people ask about the store, but anything that will really benefit the area.”
Darrow said she is also hopeful for the future of the community.
“Change is coming and the environment will be better for people,” Darrow said, applauding the collapsed Lane Plating building.