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Friday October 24th 2014

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Lawsuit filed over metal shredder

Attorney Bob Kerrigan told the Escambia School Board today at its workshop that his firm is filing a lawsuit against the scrap yard near Oakcrest Elementary School and the closed Brownsville Middle School on the behalf of residents in the neighborhood.

GSI Recycling has be operating since late 2010 what Kerrigan described as a massive metal shredder that crushes up to 150,000 pounds a day. “It can devour a whole car,” said Kerrigan, who wanted the school board to be aware of the lawsuit before they received any phone calls from concerned parents.

Kerrigan said his clients have complained about the noise and vibrations from the shredder, which emits what the conditional permit describes as “fugitive emissions.” Neighbors had said that there is at least one loud explosion a day from the facility as it crushes cars. Kerrigan said that homes and cars in the area are covered with dust from the scrap yard.

“When people complained to the company,” said Kerrigan, “they were told the company had permit for the shredder and there was little that they could do about it.”

The attorney said that his firm had received the tapes of the county meeting on the permit and that the shredder was never mentioned. The conditional permit was simply for a plant expansion, according to Kerrigan.

Superintendent Malcolm Thomas and the school board expressed concerns about the safety of the children attending nearby Oakcrest. Thomas said that he would have air quality tests run on the property.

Thomas, who tried to sell in 2009 Brownsville Middle School to Friendship Missionary Baptist Church for a community center and church for $1.4 million and again in 2011 to George Hawthorne who wanted to co-develop a subdivision with Habitat for Humanity for $1 million, said that the scrap yard has impacted the sales price of the school property.

“We’ve lost buyers because of the scrap yard,” said Thomas. “The shredder devalues it even more.”

Board chairman Bill Slayton thanked Kerrigan for his presentation and efforts. “We are with you,” said Slayton. “We’re for you.”

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Here’s a promotional video I found on YouTube: