1983: Elevated Lead Levels Found in Children

In 1983, after already being fined for violating the 1968 Lead Emissions Ordinance, RSR Smelter Corporation was sued by the City of Dallas and the State of Texas. The case brought national attention, especially when testing showed elevated lead levels in West Dallas children’s blood (Newton, 2009, p. 7). The New York Times wrote an article in 1983 condemning the plant’s location, which was very close to the public housing site and Thomas Edison Middle School (New York Times, 1983).

Hacker, 2017

Ultimately the case was settled and RSR was responsible for cleaning up the contaminated land in West Dallas. Additionally, RSR was required to do lead screening in children and pregnant women and start using equipment at the plant that would filter the lead emissions (Newton, 2009, p. 7).

Another lawsuit happened in 1985 that resulted in $45 million being distributed amongst 370 children in West Dallas that were affected by the harmful lead emissions. RSR ceased all their operations in 1984 and the following ten years were dedicated to cleaning up the site so that lead could no longer harm the residents of West Dallas (Newton, 2009, p. 7).

Hacker, 2017

In 1991, the federal government joined in on the lawsuits against RSR, suing for the damages and harm done to West Dallas residents and pushing the environmental injustice shown in West Dallas to the national level. Additionally in 1993, President Bill Clinton declared that there would be a clean-up effort, leading to the EPA’s adoption of West Dallas as a “Superfund” Site in 1995 (Stone, 2015).

To skip ahead on the timeline to topics related to RSR Smelter’s environmental injustice, click on the topics below:

After years of injustice, RSR’s pollution was seen on the national stage, leading the EPA to place West Dallas on the Superfund List for cleanup:


Hacker, H. K. (2017, July 27). When the worst elementary school in Dallas closes, what happens to the kids? The Dallas Morning News. https://www.dallasnews.com/news/education/2017/07/27/when-the-worst-elementary-school-in-dallas-closes-what-happens-to-the-kids/

Newton, D. E. (2009). Environmental Justice: A Reference Handbook, 2nd Edition: A Reference Handbook, Second Edition. ABC-CLIO.

New York Times. (1983, April 25). DALLAS SOIL TAINTING: RELOCATION URGED. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/1983/04/25/us/dallas-soil-tainting-relocation-urged.html

Stone, R. (2015, November 2). City to move West Dallas concrete plant next to Superfund site, school. Oak Cliff. https://oakcliff.advocatemag.com/2015/11/city-to-move-west-dallas-concrete-plant-next-to-superfund-site/

Wayback Machine. (2009, May 14). https://web.archive.org/web/20090514201643/http://www.epa.gov//region6//6sf/pdffiles/0602297.pdf